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Hearth & Home October 2014

2014 August Business Climate


August Retail Sales

In early September, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,134 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare August 2014 sales to August 2013. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 212 useable returns.


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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


At least 76 percent of retailers in all four product categories reported that either sales were up or did not change from August 2013.


13 MONTH YEAR-OVER-YEAR RETAILER SALES
August 2013 Through August 2014

For the third consecutive month, month/year vs. month/years sales were positive for all product categories.


Retailer Comments

Northeast

Connecticut: “Crazy! It almost feels like 2008. People are worried about another long, cold and expensive winter again. We are up almost 100 percent two months in a row.”

Florida: “The best August we’ve had in five years.”

Massachusetts: “Thank you, no-tax holiday. Business is flying.”

Maine: “It appears that the previous Maine winter is still fresh in the consumer’s mind.”

Maine: “Sales are up 35 percent, but discounting is also up. B & C dealers are being set up anywhere, and that is troubling.”

Maine: “August was a very strong month, hopefully a sign of how things will be for the rest of the year and into next year. Also booking many more high-priced jobs than normal.”

New Hampshire: “Petro energy prices are stable. Normal summer weather. Real estate and construction have not changed in our area. Employment and spendable income is still level. Customers are on a stove- and pellet-buying frenzy similar to spring of 2008. Consumer confidence? Don’t look back, just keep writing the orders.”

New Hampshire: “This is the largest monthly increase we’ve seen in over 30 years in business. We’re maintaining a two-week lead on installs. We’re up 25 percent year-to-date.”

New Jersey: “August was steady, just like last year. Gearing up for the upcoming violent seasonal rush. Bring it on and be strong. No complaints!”

New York: “Hearth sales were nearly double this August. Hoping this run carries into the fall!”

Pennsylvania: “Pellet stoves are on fire for July and August. Biggest August in 37 years thanks to last year’s killer winter.”

Pennsylvania: “Consumers are back with money and demands. Installations are booked out four weeks.”

Pennsylvania: “Still steady floor traffic. Wood and gas sales are strong but pellets are way down. Home remodeling is alive and well. Grill islands are slowing down but the outdoor fireplaces and fireside chat pits are coming back strong, mainly the high-end units.”

Vermont: “It looks like it’s going to be a very busy season!”


Weather Report

For the following weather charts, the numbers for each state reflect the temperature ranking for the period since records began in 1895.

Only six states – Washington, Oregon, California, Kansas, Florida and Maine – recorded above normal average temperatures in August.

For the three-month period August-October, seven western states experienced Record Warmest temperatures, while another 36 states had either Above Normal or Much Above Normal temperatures.

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South

Arkansas: “Super hot month of weather, but wood stoves and insert sales were strong. People remember the 2013 winter.”

Louisiana: “We have been doing fantastic. New construction on custom homes is especially good. Hoping for NO hurricanes this season.”

Louisiana: “After last year’s unusually cold winter, customers are planning their hearth product purchases early. Barbecue sales have increased since football season has started. Geaux Saints and LSU.”

North Carolina: “Up against a challenging sales number from last August. So happy to approach it.”

Tennessee: “Another record month! Don’t know whether to celebrate or be scared. Installs are booked for several weeks and we have not gotten to our busy time.”

Virginia: “Very busy August.”

Midwest

Indiana: “Glass door sales were up as well as complete gas fireplace systems. Showroom traffic is picking up.”

Iowa: “February and August 2014 are comparable to October and November 2013!”

Michigan: “We were busy all summer, compared to most years. The hard winter has consumers thinking ahead! Stove sales are up immensely!”

Michigan: “Mother Nature was a mean old gal this summer. You don’t fool with Mother Nature. No summer weather. Lousy summer sales.”

Michigan: “The stars are aligned for a banner hearth season. Last year’s cold temperatures and high propane prices are driving the market.”

Missouri: “Nice weather brings people out and we have a great sales team that helps sell product. Set a new record for hot tub sales this year. Future looks good for upcoming sales.”

Ohio: “As with most of the summer we saw a strong month of hearth sales and traffic. More people are planning for another cold and snowy winter.”

Ohio: “Gas fireplaces have been strong all summer. August was no different.” Wisconsin: “Sales month to month are slightly down but only due to difficulty finding qualified installers. Could be up significantly if we had enough skilled hands.”

Wisconsin: “August sales are up 9.5 percent from August 2013. The year’s total sales to date are up 35 percent. We are booked one month out for installations. So grateful for the business. People seem happier too!”

Wisconsin: “Up 30 percent in August. Year-to-date up 30 percent. None in


Consumer Confidence

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in July, improved further in August. The Index now stands at 92.4 (1985=100), up from 90.3 in July. Says Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board: “Consumer confidence increased for the fourth consecutive month as improving business conditions and robust job growth helped boost consumers’ spirits.”

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.

The Index is based on a probability-design random sample conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company.

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West

Arizona: “Fall is coming early this year! Sell, sell, sell!” California: “In August our total sales were down nine percent.”

California: “We had a real hot August. Year-to-date sales are up. We still have slow new housing starts in our area. Do not see anything changing there.”

California: “Ready for a stellar season.”

California: “August was very slow. We managed to improve over last year by a small margin.”

Oregon: “August is making up for a very slow summer.”

Washington: “It was our best August. Great weather, good traffic.”

Washington: “Last year was a tremendous increase; we’re just under last year.”

Canada

Alberta: “Our closing rate continues to climb with our two reps. Mine is still maintaining 99 percent plus.”

Alberta: “Outdoor products have been very slow here this year. Last year was a better year for sales on outdoor products.”

New Brunswick: “Due to a major power outage in our area in July, customers are purchasing early. Wood stoves are in demand. Propane stoves and fireplaces are also selling well.”

Ontario: “Best August in over 40 years.”

Ontario: “Started slow. Picked up by mid-month. Wood sales strong. Gas down.”

Ontario: “A nice finish to summer helped out the slow start. Maybe we will have a spring next year.”

Ontario: “August was a continuation of a stellar summer for solid fuel, which is our specialty. Quality pellet appliances are up, up, up and wood is up.”


Stock Watch

COMPANY – EXCHANGESYMBOL52 WEEKWeek Ending% CHANGEMARKET CAPITALIZATION
    High Low 01-Aug-15 29-Aug-15 4 Week 26 Week 52 Week ($000,000)
HNI Corporation (a) HNI 40.43 31.00 35.08 37.91 8.1% 6.6% 13.2% $1,704.1
Pool Corporation (b) POOL 62.84 50.58 54.63 56.55 3.5% -3.3% 8.6% $2,491.6
Restoration Hardware Holdings (a) RH 94.50 54.61 82.14 83.87 2.1% 23.8% 20.6% $3,302.0

(a) = New York Stock Exchange
(b) = NASDAQ
(d) = OTCQB


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