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Hearth & Home October 2014

Bull Outdoor Products.

2014 Barbecue Mid-year Snapshot

By Richard Wright

Pellet grills and smokers/kamados were the stars of the barbecue world this year.

Hearth & Home’s mid-year snapshot was taken immediately after the Fourth of July. As can be seen in the first chart, mid-year sales last year (2013) were up 4.4 percent over the prior year. That was the first positive increase in a decade.

In 2014, mid-year sales remained equal to the prior year, and while remaining flat is far from desirable, there were some stars among barbecue products.

Most notable was the pellet grill category, with 55 percent of those who sell that category posting an increase in sales; only 14 percent indicated their sales were down, while 32 percent said sales remained the same as in 2013.

Once again the smokers/kamados category showed strength, with 40 percent of those who sell that category having a better year in 2014 than in the prior year.

Barbecue Products – Mid-Year Sales

US – 2004 to 2014

In 2014, mid-year sales of barbecue products were flat.

Retailer Comments


Delaware: “Traeger grills is really working harder on their online sales with special promotions, free shipping, etc. I have lost sales to customers who had intentions of buying from us and purchased online even with me offering free covers, shelves and a bag of pellets! Thinking about dropping their line.”

Massachusetts: “We have been actually selling a lot of outdoor gas fire pits and tables this year. It’s taken us a while to draw the customers to our store for these products but, advertising, social media and word of mouth has helped to do this. Most of my customers have the money to buy, so the economy hasn’t had an effect on them. The ones who aren’t so fortunate are buying those specialty outdoor products but, maybe less quality or looking for a deal.”

New Jersey: “Put in a new outdoor display with fire tables and outdoor fireplace.”

Pennsylvania: “Grill accessories and charcoal sales are up. Grill service has been growing. Picked up furniture to help sell fire pits. Started barbecue team and have had open practice runs to the public. Did an Outdoor Room in front of our building where we hold barbecue classes when weather permits. Not much interest in kamados, smaller gas grills this year so far. Customers are not in the spending mood the last couple of months. Financing more product. Weather has been cooler and very wet.”

Pennsylvania: “Floor traffic for prefab grill island, outdoor fireplaces and casual fireside is still strong and everyone wants custom colors and textures but delivery of those items is and always has been a major concern – eight of our manufacturers are four to five weeks – at this time of year we just say, ‘How great it is going to look for your Labor Day and fall season parties’ and smile when we say it!! Is Napoleon becoming the new CFM of outdoor products?? Have seen them in two major ads for two local furniture and appliance stores.”

Pennsylvania: “As always, stay the course, stick to the basics. Always think long term but be ready to make adjustments quickly. Lots of interest in wood and pellet; gas is always leading the way.”

Vermont: “We are up for 2014.”

Gas Grills


Infrared Grills


Georgia: “Overall customers are spending more. Getting more of what they want. Custom outdoor kitchens are going crazy. Very good market for this now.”

Tennessee: “Grill season started slow due to some good winter weather through March which suited us just fine. From April on grill sales have been about the same as 2013. Island business has gotten much tougher due to all the hardscape folks getting into it but, we supply several of them with the product. Customer attitude seems good and the economy here is good to very good.”

Texas: “It has been a good season for outdoor kitchens. Our area is in a severe drought so the outdoor fireplaces and fire pits have interest but projects are being put on hold.”

Texas: “We are a new store, only in our second season. Our sales are up 50 to 75 percent from last season, due in most part to identifying our consumer and directing our advertising to our market area. I have been very happy with the growth we are seeing. We not only work with the individual client but in partnership with contractors to sell the overall outdoor living experience. This has been a great year for all and looks to continue to improve through the rest of our season here in north Texas.”

Virginia: “Would have been nice to be a little busier than we were. Customers have been about price, price, price, cheap. They are so accustomed to buying from the Box stores. They want quality but Box store price?”

Charcoal Grills




Indiana: “We’re putting in an awesome new Outdoor Room, built-in FireMagic, Primo, Treager and fire pits, islands. I think the economy is obviously on the upswing and people are sick of the gas grills and especially buying one from the Big Box stores every year or two. They want quality and more and more people have the money to buy the high end gas grills that last. With charcoal, kamados, smokers, etc. it’s about the food. They don’t want crappy food off a $150 grill...might as well cook it inside. Charcoal is where it’s at and the pellet grills are so easy to operate and do add flavor to almost any food. They are more affordable in most cases. That being said this is north central Indiana and people are already buying their Btus for winter....wood and pellet stoves are already selling pretty good and this (from my experience) is about a month earlier than previous years. LP shortage, bitterly cold winter, record snow, and EVERYTHING cost more so let the heating season begin I say.”

Michigan: “Finished counter top install on TWO outdoor kitchen units in our outdoor kitchen pavilion. Completed outdoor kitchen display indoors (for those rainy days).”

Minnesota: “Very little new construction, some remodeling. People who have money are investing in their homes but all are feeling unsure about the future economic conditions. We are gaining steam early this year for the fall so believe that this fall will be an improvement over last.”

Missouri: “Our brands benefitted from being reviewed well by several bloggers and review organizations which drove traffic. The weather has been mild, which has led more people outdoors. The economy keeps people with a tight grasp on their disposable income, so they are seeking ways to enjoy the weather without going to a bar, restaurant or resort.”

Missouri: “Soft economy, everybody wants a deal. Very few will walk in and purchase on the spot.”

Ohio: “Big Green Egg sales were strong sellers from April through about the middle of June. Similar to how they sold in 2013. Gas grills were awful. We still have a decent amount of product left from our early buy order. We had to cave in and match internet pricing on high end stainless grills. That led to about $25K in new sales.”

Ohio: “We expanded into the ceramic charcoal grills and took a bath. Have not sold a single Primo even after reducing prices to one percent over cost. Once we sell them we will stay out of the market. Gas grill sales were down simply because our market is saturated with stores selling them.”

Ohio: “While the patio side of the business was less than stellar this year, barbecue was very strong. We continue to see growth in this category.”

Wisconsin: “Long, hard winter, wet, cold spring. The first truly hot day of this summer has been July 21 in our area. Super late season.”

Wisconsin: “We brought in more fire pits this year than last, but due to the longer winter it is taking longer for us to move through them. It is starting, but hopefully a good fall will help move them. Charcoal (kamado grills) are down. Again, could be due to longer winter and people are still paying off fuel bills. Will see what happens in the fall. People are spending more in luxury items like high end fireplaces and spas and redoing their living rooms. They are taking fewer vacations and fixing up the home!”

Fire Pits


Pellet Grills


California: “For us here in the Southern California desert, this is truly the dog days of summer. Low sales volume but better than years past. Increase in contractor fireplace sales has helped make this season a success.”

California: “Stock four tons of barbecue pellets at all times. We barbecue on Saturday each week. We do remotes with the barbecue.”

California: “We are down all around. The economy is taking longer in our area to get back into the idea of spending. My sauces and rubs are also down. Not sure if we are going to keep selling grills, especially if you can buy them online or get them cheaper at a Big Box store. We have an annual barbecue where we normally feed about 150 people; we were lucky to have 30 this year. We serve ribs, salmon, wings, pulled pork just to name a few things and we had food left over. Not sure what else to try to get them in if free food did not work!”

Nevada: “It’s about the same.”

Oregon: “Green Mountain Pellet Grills continue to gain speed in sales and popularity. Nice addition to our regular stove and hearth line-up.”

Washington: “Don’t move a lot of barbecues.”

Prefab Grill Islands


Outdoor Fireplaces


British Columbia: “We opened a new store (our third) in our area which is the reason for the large increase. Same store sales are up around eight percent. Customers are looking for quality at a price but expect service as well. Customers are cautiously optimistic about the economy. School teachers are currently on strike in our province. Not sure how that will influence sales if the strike carries on into the fall. We also added Kalamazoo to the mix which has been successful so far. For the last 15 years we have included a barbecue cover, assembly and delivery as well as recycle of the old grill with any grill purchase over $400. This continues to be successful for us today.”

Manitoba: “I sell Napoleon grills and the biggest increase is the Pro500 with the infrared side burner. I sell quality and people are liking that. Tired of buying junk barbecues.”

Nova Scotia: “To be honest, we did not book enough units and one of our manufacturers did not produce value priced models that were available last year. These models would have resulted in a stronger year. I think consumer demand is about the same as last year and we have to prepare better for next year.”

Ontario: “We have spring weather. Where is summer?”

Ontario: “Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces seem to be doing better. Barbecues were a big loser for everyone. Box stores have lots and so do dealers. More damage to come....that industry is falling quickly.”

Ontario: “Generally good. Kamado grills fluctuate. Fire pits are up because of popularity and more selection.”

Ontario: “Turned our backs on gas grills. Waste of time and energy in our area. There is a good high end dealer close and I didn’t want to strip his sales for a few bucks. Went total solid fuel products only, played the fickle price of propane card. Started out real strong then fizzled with the low summer temperature.”

More Industry Data

2020 June Business Climate

In early July Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare June 2020 sales to June 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 233 useable returns.

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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.

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2020 April Business Climate

In early May, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare April 2020 sales to April 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 234 useable returns.

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2020 February Business Climate

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.

» Continue

2020 January Business Climate

In early February, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare January 2020 sales to January 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 219 useable returns.

» Continue