2020 May Business Climate
In early June, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare May 2020 sales to May 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 229 useable returns.
RETAILER SALES – U.S. AND CANADA
When homeowners are locked into their homes, the Spa industry flourishes! Witness: 77% of spa retailers were UP in May, while 43% of Barbecue retailers were UP, 42% of Patio retailers were UP, and 24% of Hearth retailers were UP.
13 MONTH YEAR-OVER-YEAR RETAILER SALES
In May, sales of Spas went UP 30%; sales of Patio products went UP 1%; sales of Barbecues stayed even with the prior year, and sales of Hearth products plummeted -19%.
Delaware: (Hearth, BBQ) “We have been open the whole time, but floor traffic has been nil! No one is coming in. Not much to compare sales from May of last year, since it was the worse month since, I have been selling stoves for 15 years! Praying for our nation and that it picks up.”
Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “The current shutdown due to COVID-19 has greatly affected sales for the month of May. We remain cautiously optimistic as our state begins to re-open. After sheltering in place for months, some customers are emerging with a greater focus on home improvements that include hearth products! We are seeing longer lead times with suppliers as they struggle to maintain business with a reduced work force. For the most part, everyone understands the ongoing challenges and continues to do business to the extent possible.”
Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Things are picking up as businesses open up.”
New Jersey: (Hearth) “Coronavirus is still shutting down our showroom. Have been doing sales curbside or by appointment only. We started going out to houses for cleanings and service mid-May.”
New York: (Hearth) “No sales or installations because of COVID-19 shutdown.”
New York: (Hearth & Spas) “We have had enough already of the new rules, the face masks, the crazy restrictions on our retail business, and most of all, the TURBO – unemployment that keeps employees home and refusing to work. Hate to make this comment space political, but seriously, how much more can our small businesses take?”
New York: (Hearth, Patio) “As installations resumed on May 16 (none since March 20), we were able to finally turn the product that had been in the warehouse. The retail store re-opened on May 30. Several prospects that we communicated with over the previous 10 weeks are making appointments to come in to the store to (hopefully) finalize their selections and deposit with us for a summer installation! Our backlog of installations that had been scheduled will take us into July.”
New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Between the low price of oil and the COVID-19 virus, homeowners are holding on to their money. We did not have a very active spring and the next few weeks don’t look too busy either.”
New York: (Hearth) “Doing well with awning sales. Concerned about low energy prices for fall/winter sales!”
New York: (Hearth, BBQ) “Coronavirus shutdown impacted sales. We started selling grills more aggressively than last year for curbside pickup.”
Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “Last year was our best ever. This fiscal year from July 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020 is down 7%. But still ahead and would be our second best year if it stays at 7% through June 30.”
Pennsylvania: (Patio, Spas) “Pool sales are through the roof. Patio is good now that we are open. Spa sales are also great. Cold temperatures are holding back sales of patio here in Northeast.”
Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We were able to completely reopen at the end of April. Once we did, it has been extremely busy, with new sales up a lot compared to last May. Outdoor furniture sales have been especially strong.”
Pennsylvania: (Hearth, BBQ) “Mid-March to mid-April knocked us off the path to a stellar year. We never really closed but customers stopped shopping in person as the state was locked down. Late April and May saw folks coming to shop home improvements. Our summer and fall installation schedule has us on track for a banner year.”
Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Well this was to be expected. It’s near next to impossible to have an upward percentage during the closure of our business for eight weeks. Good news is that we have been very busy since we reopened. We hope that we can catch up and end the year with an increase.”
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 May, only five states (California, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico) posted Much Above Average temperatures, with five more states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, and Texas) at Above Average. All the rest of the states experienced Near Average, Below Average, or Much Below Average.
For the period March – May, seven states (Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida) were at Much Above Average temperatures. Not a single state was colder than average.
In May, both North Carolina and South Carolina experienced Much Above Average precipitation, while only Utah was at Much Below Average.
Arkansas: (Hearth) “Despite very slow retail sales and floor traffic, May was better than last year thanks to DIY customer projects. People were working on their stoves, chimneys, etc., due to the virus situation. Sure hope June is better.”
Louisiana: (Hearth) “Again, our sales of hearth products are down. However, our service work is growing and bringing our total income for the year up from last year. We have found new service opportunities in general home maintenance/repair.”
North Carolina: (Hearth, BBQ) “I feel really blessed to only be down 20% for the year and breaking even the last two months. Most businesses are shut down or just holding on. Things are also looking up even with all the negativity in the world.”
Oklahoma: (Hearth, Patio) “Store closed for six weeks. Pent-up demand pushed total sales up 110% for month of May. Reopened May 5.”
Oklahoma: (Hearth) “I am not providing pool service anymore, just sales. My son and another ex-employee are doing all the service. We still provide parts and products, just no service. A lot less payroll. We seem to have more money in the bank than we usually do. Quite a lot more.”
Oklahoma: (Hearth) “It’s been an interesting year!”
Virginia: (Hearth) “Only two sales in May. One was new home construction, the other was a replacement vent-free burner and log set. Plus, a few service calls. That was it. Between the pandemic and now the riots all over the country, things aren’t looking good.”
Texas: (Hearth) “We were already in recession mode – then picked up some – then virus hit. Half of March through April we were shut down by city and governor of Texas until May 5.
“I’m here every day – but in Texas City fast food places are doing well – we are not. We were able to open back up just as temperatures are rising and more rains and little storms.
“Going to advertise more with sales, it might help. Every day more people are getting laid off or on fewer days of work. I’m sure fireplaces are not top in their thoughts.”
Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “Need an installation workforce to install.”
Indiana: (Hearth) “We had the strongest January and February for hearth sales in several years even though the weather was warmest in several years. A terrible March even before COVID-19. Then closed in April for COVID-19, but did a good month over the phone for previous estimates. In May we were open by appointment-only and our sales were up 10% over last year. I have no idea why. The fireplace business is not for the weak of heart. LOL!”
Indiana: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Seems the COVID-19 virus, which shut down the country and basically the world, has been good for our spa and pool market! Now if we could just get our suppliers to get back up and running, and product delivered to fill the showrooms back up, that would be a great thing.”
Indiana: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “When customers are home and they got the money they spend the money on their home.”
Michigan: (Hearth) “Monthly totals are down due to the COVID-19 virus and our store being closed. We opened our store June 1 for business.”
Michigan: (Patio, BBQ) “Our store is normally closed off-season. We generally have staff in mid-March and open the showroom April 1. With our state’s shelter-at-home legislature concerning non-essential businesses, we were not able to have staff in to prepare for the season or open our doors as normal.
“In mid-April we were allowed to have curbside service which generated some income. Early-May, we were allowed to have the showroom open to a maximum of 10 clients at a time. This has definitely put us behind in floor prep, warehouse prep, and sales for the year. The struggle is real!”
Minnesota: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Traffic is solid; our decision to close the showroom (for appointments only) and not do work in client homes for April/May affected our sales. We are optimistic about the rest of the year.”
Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ) “Only a few short months ago, across the country we were all having manager/owner meetings preparing for the what-ifs and the doom and gloom that seemed inevitable. We wondered what we were going to do to stay afloat. Well, that never really happened for my business. Much like we saw the success of Home Depot, Walmart, and essentials like that, I noticed an uptick in my hearth sales. Many of our clients found they have time to work on the jobs they have been putting off – the rest is history now.
“I’m up 22% YOY, and most of that growth came during the COVID-19 crisis when almost everything was shut down or severely restricted. I was only doing appointments after hours in my showroom to limit exposure to just the client and myself. Now, with interest rates the way they are and businesses being in Phase 4 of reopening, I’m still keeping on track for another profitable month during the hottest and generally our slowest time of the year.”
Nebraska: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “I think things are opening up to the point where people are ready to get out and buy.”
Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “Barbecues in the $1,000 to $2,000 range are selling like hot cakes. Sold through the early-buy fast and are almost through the second buy. We’re also selling an above-average amount of hearth products as folks are remodeling their homes. People being stuck at home while the government sends them stimulus money has resulted in a solid second quarter so far!”
Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Contractor sales continue to be strong. Retail customers have returned to the marketplace.”
Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “May was down, but June will be the real shocker. After our usual anniversary sale in April, we usually experience an in-season sales month. Not this year. The residual two months will be a real letdown. Sales traffic is good and steady. Who knows, maybe it will come back as people getting used to staying at home will start updating their fireplaces and outdoor living spaces. Carry on!”
A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth.
California: (Patio, BBQ) “We were closed from March 20 to May 6 and our May sales were better than 2019 with five fewer days. Pent-up demand? That would sure be nice if it will continue for a few months.”
California: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We were allowed to reopen on May 1 after being closed since March 20. Customers were flooding in and were willing to buy. Best month ever in one of our stores. I think that customers are spending their annual vacation money on improving their backyards and home life.
“It will take some time to recoup the lost six weeks of sales, but hopefully we will. We do have the PPP loan and will be trying to navigate the forgiveness hoops this week to try to get the whole amount forgiven. Most manufacturers have been amazing at working with us to give us more time to pay our early-buys. Most understand that if we don’t have the money, we can’t pay them. We will not be buying again from the ones that don’t understand this during this traumatic time for all of us.”
California: (Hearth, BBQ) “COVID-19 is keeping most folks inside. Lucky we have new construction.”
California: (Hearth, Patio) “It has certainly been a rollercoaster atmosphere for business, but overall it has been quite good. We’ve had enough time to get things cleaned up and organized, now it’s time to hit the ground running with installs.”
California: (Hearth, BBQ, Spas) “It has been an interesting few months. We are fortunate to be open with limited hours, would love to keep the limited hours. We are limiting customers coming into the store and it has worked great. A couple cold days and snow kept people coming in for heating pellets. Once California opens up and we can get back to business as usual, it will all be good.”
California: (Hearth, Spas) “Our store is boarded up due to rioting, traffic is down due to the pandemic, and we have laid off 80% of our staff but are still open six days a week and selling product. The PPP loan has helped immensely. Time to show your strength and make it happen. We will get through this!”
California: (Hearth, BBQ) “Because of the coronavirus impact, our sales were down and we have been closed for three months.”
Colorado: (BBQ) “Manufacturers are running out of grills. May could be a tough month.”
Colorado: (Hearth, BBQ) “Had a couple of large jobs hit last year in May – difficult to compare month to month. Overall, net and gross profit are up over last year.”
Montana: (Hearth) “The pandemic seemed to light a fire with many people wanting wood-burning products.”
Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our April and May barbecue sales have been up significantly which we can only attribute to the unanticipated consequences of the pandemic. The stay-at-home orders have kept folks out of restaurants and in their backyards.”
Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “April was down due to COVID-19. May was up from the previous May.”
British Columbia: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “So consumers have decided to spend money in their backyards. Patio furniture is way up; barbecues are down a little, and hot tubs have caught up to the previous year which was very strong. As long as supply holds out we could be in for a very good ride.”
British Columbia: (Hearth) “Some interest regarding pricing by phone but no quotes requested.”
British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Quiet, barely any foot traffic through our showroom.”
Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “What a delightful month of May! We normally have our snowbirds return in an orderly fashion with no real concerns about real heat, we proceed with plans made before they left, turn systems on, that kind of peaceful work one enjoys. COVID-19, government’s mandated showroom closures, keeping our service technicians safe on no-heat calls, etc. Just another day except I’ve never seen such clean hands at the end of a service day. The real question is where does this road go and who will take the reins and lead us to the new salvation, or are retailers just expected to do it alone – again?”
Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “Shutdown showroom due to COVID-19. Open on Internet and to answer the phone. We sold maybe one barbecue every 2-3 days, but generally there’s little interest. We advertised on radio doing storefront pickup, but we’re using the time to renovate our showroom. Income from barbecues has only covered wages.”
New Brunswick: (Hearth, BBQ) “We have seen traffic increase in May since the COVID-19 issues. We are back to last year’s numbers in the last half of May. When the weather started to warm up we saw our barbecue sales increase nicely.”
|COMPANY – EXCHANGE||SYMBOL||52 WEEK||Week Ending||% CHANGE||MARKET CAPITALIZATION|
|High||Low||1-MAY-20||29-MAY-20||4 WEEK||26 WEEK||52 WEEK||($000,000)|
|Standard & Poor’s 500 (a)||S & P||3,386.15||2,237.40||2,830.71||3,044.31||7.5%||-3.1%||10.6%|
|HNI Corporation (b)||HNI||42.90||16.61||23.21||25.47||9.7%||-35.2%||-23.2%||$1,090.00|
|Pool Corporation (c)||POOL||271.16||160.35||216.02||269.02||24.5%||30.3%||49.6%||$10,490.00|
|Restoration Hardware (b)||RH||256.27||73.14||137.46||216.89||57.8%||5.5%||154.7%||$4,180.00|
|Wayfair, Inc. (b)||W||197.06||21.70||122.50||171.55||40.0%||102.0%||19.1%||$16,800.00|