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Hearth & Home May 2019

2019 March Business Climate

March Sales

In early April, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare March 2019 sales to March 2018. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 220 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


March 2019 vs. March 2018

Fifty-six percent of Hearth retailers were UP in March, and 47% of Spa retailers, while only 31% of Patio retailers were UP, and 23% of Barbecue retailers.

March 2019 vs. March 2018

In March, Spa sales were up a healthy 12%, followed by Hearth sales with an increase of 5%, and Patio with a 3% gain. However, Barbecue sales declined by 4%.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “Sales remained strong coming out of winter. Overall the new year is still steady. Floor model sales should keep sales continuing as we clear out for the 2020 new regulations. Let’s see what rising oil prices do for the spring. We’re ready.”

Massachusetts: (Patio) “Weather! Let the sun come out.”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Hearth sales are awesome! Mostly high-end gas fireplaces, inserts, and freestanding stoves. Cast-iron wood stoves are also doing very well. Entry level products are not doing as well, except for pellet stoves. Sold quite a few $999 pellet stoves, which is crazy. Service department is also doing very well.”

New York: (Hearth, Spas) “Thanks to some really ugly spring weather, we have been pleasantly surprised that store traffic remains busy, considering the time of the year. We are reconsidering the particular items we carry. If you are a manufacturer reading this, and you are busy selling through Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart, and the rest of the dot-coms, we will not be selling your products in our showroom.

“If you are a fellow retailer, might I suggest you consider the same policy? We need to band together and support the manufacturers who support the brick-and-mortar stores. After all, we are the ones selling and installing most of these appliances. Manufacturers that sell out to the dot-coms are really making me angry, and lowering everyone’s margins. No wonder Kmart, Sears, Toys-R-Us, Montgomery Ward, and way more to come, have gone bye-bye. We’re doing all we can to preserve our wonderful store in the dot-com era.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “In March, there was a slight drop-off in the increase, but April is already booked to exceed last year.”

Pennsylvania: (Patio) “Milder weather this March.”

Weather Report

For the following weather charts, the numbers for each state reflects the temperature and percipitation rankings for the period since records began in 1895.

In March, only Arizona and New Mexico posted Above Average temperatures, while the rest of the country was at Near Average to Below Average.

For the three-month period January – March, the heat was primarily in the Southeast, with Florida at Much Above Average.

The states of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska experienced a month of Much Above Average wet weather.

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Despite very low floor traffic, a few larger sales made for a better retail month, but not enough to catch up YTD. When March arrives, it seems customers back-off buying and sales really slow down for several months. Welcome to retail sales.”

Oklahoma: (Hearth, Patio) “Colder than usual temps. Patio products are starting to pick up now.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Pellet grill sales were up, ceramics down, and Weber’s even.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Here in Texas it has been a slow start to the year. March is not usually a great sales month, but this year is more comparable to 2008-09. Hopefully, it will pick back up soon as it usually does. Overall for the YTD, we are down $75K.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Weird weather patterns caused another slow month.”

Virginia: (Hearth) “January sales were just as good as December’s, but, come February, it was like someone turned the switch off. Starting the first week of March, sales kicked back on and surpassed our March 2018 sales. Pray that trend continues. It should, now that new-home starts have taken off again.”


Illinois: (Patio) “We had a great March. With the cold weather we had, I think people were just ready to think spring and summer. Woven and teak were again our strongest categories. It’s always nice to start the season strong.”

Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ) “Bitter cold weather, wind, rain, and snow extended our hearth season. Sales were very strong in January and February, but March was down over last year. Sales hit an all-time record for the first quarter. Barbecue sales made a late start due to delayed warm temperatures. However, March delivered strong sales for barbecue, resulting in an increase over last year in the first quarter.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “This was the best first quarter we’ve ever had as a company. While we experienced the typical slow-down for foot traffic, gas fireplace sales remained very strong. Our hope is that the investment we’ve made in training our new staff has us positioned to take full advantage of the roaring economy that has finally reached northeast Ohio.”

Wisconsin: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “We’re having a more normal spring than we have had the previous two years. This has gotten our core business of installing in-ground swimming pools, and servicing pools, an early start which is a great thing. This may help our secondary offerings of furniture and spas if we have a warm spring.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Weather is finally warming up and snow is melting. Hopefully, April will bring renewed sales. Cold temps and conditions made it hard to complete jobs. Homeowners were staying put and not getting out to make purchases. With melting snow, traffic is brisk and building is off to a good start.”

Wisconsin: (Patio) “Spring is taking its sweet time coming to Wisconsin! March was cold and wet and did not help our sales for the month.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “A good month. Trying customers at times, but still a good month.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Love American Made!”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index declined in March, after increasing in February. The Index now stands at 124.1 (1985=100), down from 131.4 in February.

“Consumer Confidence decreased in March after rebounding in February, with the Present Situation the main driver of this month’s decline,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

“Confidence has been somewhat volatile over the past few months, as consumers have had to weather volatility in the financial markets, a partial government shutdown, and a very weak February jobs report.

“Despite these dynamics, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue expanding in the near term. However, the overall trend in confidence has been softening since last summer, pointing to a moderation in economic growth.”

A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth.
The Index is based on a probability-design random sample conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company.

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Alaska: (Hearth, BBQ) “Slow early spring for stove sales. Interest in wood stoves picking up again for summer projects. Made in USA is important to many customers. They are willing to pay more if they see the value in the stove being made in USA. Canadian made stoves are also popular.”

Arizona: (Patio, BBQ) “Bad weather this quarter in Arizona, unseasonably cold. Maybe it’s cause for a reduction in barbecue sales, not many are cooking out. We’ve seen an increase in furniture sales because normal golfers have more time to shop.”

California: (Hearth, Spas) “It rained on and off all of March. Snow levels are at 150%. Wet and cold sells inserts, and new construction is booming. Great March.”

Colorado: (BBQ) “The new IRS withholding tables screwed us.”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “Weather in March 2018 compared to March 2019 was spring vs winter.”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “We had a surprising March that brought our annual sales even with 2018. We had been lagging behind by 7%, now we’re even.”

Oregon: (Hearth) “March was the first month in a while that was on point. It’s been slow all around, but we’re working on the basics that will maximize the opportunity that we have.”

Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “First quarter of the year was cold and snowfall was above normal, which equaled good sales. Season has changed since April 1.”

Washington: (Hearth, BBQ, Spas) “The mild winter of 2018 slowed down hearth product sales. Spas are steady and we sell Green Mountain pellet grills, which are gaining in popularity every year.”


British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Slow start to barbecue season, but still selling wood stoves and full chimney systems.”

British Columbia: (Hearth) “Some consumer interest, but no sales.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, BBQ) “Weather has improved in March after very bad weather in January and February. We should be up year-over-year by double digits.”

Ontario: (BBQ) “Last March was very good. Barbecue season started early. This year it’s been very bad. We are still waiting for warm weather to arrive.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “This year has been extremely flat, which is unusual as it has been a cold, long winter! Hopefully, spring will get people planning ahead for next winter.”

Ontario: (Patio, BBQ) “The winter and spring sales volumes are too small to be statistically meaningful.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 1-Mar-19 29-Mar-19 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,930.75 2,351.10 2,806.61 2,834.40 1.1% -2.7% 7.3%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 45.40 32.55 38.55 36.29 -5.9% -18.0% 0.6% $1,630.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 175.87 135.76 159.22 164.97 3.6% -1.1% 12.8% $6,500.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 164.49 84.19 156.21 102.95 -34.1% -21.4% 8.0% $2,870.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 173.72 60.53 169.83 148.45 -12.6% 0.5% 119.8% $15,590.00


(a) = Standard & Poor’s 500 is based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ. It is considered one of the best representations of the U.S. stock market, and a bellwether for the U.S. economy.
(b) = New York Stock Exchange
(c) = NASDAQ

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