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Hearth & Home April 2020

2020 February Business Climate

February Sales

In early March, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare February 2020 sales to February 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 186 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


February 2020 vs. February 2019

In February, 43% of Hearth retailers were UP in sales; 38% of Spa retailers were UP, 29% of Barbecue retailers were UP, and only 20% of Patio retailers were UP.

February 2020 vs. February 2019

In February, sales of Spas lead the way with an increase of 8%. Patio sales were next with a 5% gain; Hearth sales increased by 4%, and Barbecue sales were just about even with the prior year.

Retailer Comments


Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “The month of February did not disappoint. Cold temps and discounts for pre-2020 products helped fuel sales, while clearing the way for the new 2020 compliant products.”

Maryland: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “February was warm on Maryland’s eastern shore. This affected wood and pellet stove sales. Barbecue is down perhaps because it’s winter. Casual customers are coming in like it’s April. We still have the virus situation, and hope it gets corrected fast.”

New Jersey: (Hearth, BBQ) “Slow traffic flow, but serious people coming in.”

New York: (Hearth, BBQ) “Gas, gas, gas. Everybody is going to gas. The mild winter did not hurt sales at all!”

New York: (Hearth, Spas) “Call me crazy, but I was thinking that the coronavirus just may further the idea that staying home is best, and to that end, upgrading that patio, spa or fireplace? If they aren’t spending that tax refund check on a cruise this year, hey, why not get a new hot tub? Besides, all that chlorine will also kill any virus that creeps into the tub with you. The only downside is that stock market nose dive. Ugh. That hurts all of us. But of course, we older business owners do realize that the market will come back, as it always has and always will. So, stop worrying!”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “With everything going on around us that we can’t control – we are focusing on the things we can control. Attitude is on the top of the list. Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react. Every phone call, every in-store customer, every service call, and every install – make it count.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, Spas) “Too early yet, spring weather is now coming and people are looking. Mid-March will be better in the Northeast. Spa sales have been great.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Our grill and outdoor furniture sales were way up because of no snow and warmer weather in January and February. Since there was no snow, customers were willing to take delivery of outdoor furniture early, rather than wait to have it delivered later in the spring.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “One of the worst February’s in recent memory. Winter was non-existent and so were our sales. In reality, February had always been a slow month, but after a few years of record low temps, we got spoiled by selling a lot of fuel and some stove sales as well, but not this year.

“Our service department carried the load; our service tech is one of the best in the business, but it’s hard to replace sales of fuel and that is money that we are not going to make up for the year. Our only hope is that the nice weather stays and we get a dry spring so that our patio and barbecue sales are up over last year. Some people wish for a mild winter, but we need cold and snow to be profitable.”

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.

California on the West Coast, and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts on the East Coast all experienced Much Above Average temperatures in February.

In the three-month period from December to February, 18 states were at Above Average temperatures; the rest of the country was at Much Above Average. Nationwide, it was the sixth warmest December – February in 125 years.

It seems that California just can’t catch a break. In February, it posted its Record Driest month since temperature readings began in 1895.

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Arkansas: (Hearth, Spas) “Much better retail month than last year but still slow for February. People seem to be holding off on big purchases of hearth products right now thinking winter is over. Wood-stove sales really slowed down since November.”

Georgia: (Patio) “With all of the rain our area has had we had sales go down, not only in outdoor furniture retail but all areas of retail.”

Texas: (Hearth, BBQ) “Lots of rain. Slower sales.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Mother Nature really hurt us this year! What winter? We really didn’t have one!”

Virginia: (Hearth) “Sales have picked up a little, but not significantly. New home construction is showing signs of picking up, which can really help to carry us through the spring and summer.”

South Carolina: (Hearth) “New construction jobs up, existing homes down due to mild winter weather.”


Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Slowest month of the year as usual!”

Indiana: (Hearth) “More contractors are purchasing fireplaces from us.”

Missouri: (Hearth) “Although February sales were slightly off, we are still up YTD 15%.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “February has been good to us overall! Hearth and barbecue categories are off slightly from last year’s numbers; that said, we are having a tremendous first quarter. We’re already ahead of a record-breaking 2019 Q1 and we’ve just barely scratched the surface on March. This has been really surprising because the winter season was not anywhere near as cold as was predicted, and we’ve had as many days above freezing in 2020 as we’ve had below. Odd year thus far, but no complaints here!”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “It just keeps getting busier; high ticket products are what’s moving, new home construction is up, no down time, gas still selling, wood seems to have slowed just a bit, electric steady, pellet absolutely dead, propane gas at a 30-year low, traffic in store not slowing down, still out about six weeks, never seen anything like this in our industry. Wow!”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Very strong contractor market. Linear gas is taking off in new constructions.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Steady but not rocking any boats! January and February overall up 18% over 2019.”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index improved slightly in February, following an increase in January. The Index now stands at 130.7 (1985=100), up from 130.4 in January.

“Consumer confidence improved slightly in February, following an increase in January,” said Lynn Franco, senior director, Economic Indicators. “Despite the decline in the Present Situation Index, consumers continue to view current conditions quite favorably. Consumers’ short-term expectations improved, and when coupled with solid employment growth, should be enough to continue to support spending and economic growth in the near term.”

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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California: (Patio, Spas) “It took 29 days to get close to last February’s sales. Compared to 2019, we are down 41% in February, 2020. Cool weather, stocks and corona are my guess, besides, it’s an election year.”

California: (Hearth, Spas) “Our rain fall is at 44% so far this season, which cut our season short (first week of November to second week of February). We had 90°F weather through October. The tradeoff – our spa season has already started, with interest we haven’t seen for some time. There’s always a silver lining!”

California: (Hearth) “It has gotten warm in northern California and hearth sales have slowed quite a bit.”

California: (Hearth, BBQ, Spas) “Keeping busy with installs and the weather is cooperating. Not much walk-in traffic, lots of people staying away because of the flu. The stock market dropping will be an issue in the coming months. Hope it goes back up and quickly.”

Nevada: (Hearth, BBQ) “Life is good.”

Washington: (Hearth, Spas) “It was a busy February.”


British Columbia: (Hearth) “Some hearth interest this month but no deposits or sales. Pellet fuel sales continue to be steady.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our YTD is off to a good start! Traffic has been good and it’s looking like a good spring. We have concerns about the coronavirus, how it may affect the overall economy.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “It’s been a slow January and February, haven’t seen it this slow in 10 years! What’s up?”

Ontario: (Hearth) “Strong retail sales pushed us up.”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Just another stupid month in the hearth biz. The way frontline retailers get treated by manufacturers and reps is getting old. The lack of business acumen among the newer dealers is embarrassing. The apocalypse is nigh and nobody’s watching.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “Record month. Cha-ching!”

Saskatchewan: (Hearth) “2019 general crop failure, Federal government spending, reasons for negative sales percentage.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 31-JAN-20 28-FEB-20 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 3,386.15 2,744.45 3,225.52 2,954.22 -8.4% 0.9% 5.4%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 42.90 29.90 35.97 32.83 -8.7% 5.3% -14.8% $1,400.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 238.23 154.16 219.30 210.96 -3.8% 7.4% 32.5% $8,480.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 256.27 84.11 208.75 181.40 -13.1% 27.4% 16.1% $3,450.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 173.72 52.41 93.70 63.21 -32.5% -43.9% -62.8% $5,890.00


(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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In early January, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare December 2019 sales to December 2018. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 216 usable returns.

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