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Hearth & Home June 2014

2014 April Business Climate


April Retail Sales

In early May, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,121 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products asking them to compare April 2014 sales to April 2013. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 197 useable returns.


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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


This is the first month since June 2013 that the percentage of hearth retailers reporting better sales than the year prior has fallen under 60 percent. The percentage of retailers in the other three product categories reporting positive comparisons was below the 12-month average.


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

While it was the lowest month/year over month/year sales percentage for hearth products since June 2013, it was still the 10th consecutive double-digit increase for the category. Patio products and hot tubs/spas were also positive, while barbecues were flat for the second month.


Retailer Comments

Northeast

Connecticut: (Hearth) “Interest still strong. First quarter best in years. Wood and pellet stoves strongest. Hoping for great year again based on high oil prices and long, cold winter.”

Maine: “Great month for pellet stove sales. Made up for the first three months of the year.”

Massachusetts: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “The cold, damp, windy weather with two snow storms has kept people away.”

Massachusetts: (Hearth) “Even though sales were down compared to last April, it was still a very busy month. Profits were actually up.”

New York: (Hearth) “Cold, wet, miserable weather makes for a great hearth business.”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Patio is doing the best of all the product categories.”

New York: “April was slow, but the first week of May we sold every spa in our showroom. Big Green Egg sales have been strong.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “Good traffic.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “Still have a lot of interest in, and purchases of, gas products. Gas sales in April were great.”

Pennsylvania: “Busy with masonry repairs and chimney service. Grill and outdoor accessories off to a slow start.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “‘Polar vortex’ is the gift that keeps giving. We’ll take it.”

Vermont: (Hearth) “Considering the fact that we were very short staffed during April because of vacations, it wasn’t a bad month. I never expect to sell much in April, so I will take whatever I get.”


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 North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin had below average temperatures in April. Twelve states experienced above normal temperatures, while the remaining 33 contiguous states averaged near normal.

It was the second warmest February to April in California in 120 years. Arizona endured its third warmest three-month period, while Nevada and Utah were also much above average. Only the surrounding states of Oregon, Idaho, Utah and New Mexico plus Florida had above average temperatures. Nine states in the middle of the country and New York were much below average for the period.

Much above average precipitation fell in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, while it was the 12th driest April since 1895 in Oklahoma. Precipitation was below average in six other southwestern and western states. Only West Virginia was drier than average in the eastern half of the country.

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South

Arkansas: (Hearth) “Very slow month. No floor traffic. People spent too much on heating bills this past winter.”

Florida: (Hearth, BBQ) “No increases to speak of.”

Florida: (Patio) “We had nowhere else to go but up.”

Mississippi: (Patio) “Wow. Not a good start to the season at all.”

Tennessee: (Hearth, BBQ) “Overall a pretty good month. Dollar volume was up six percent over ’13.”

Tennessee: (Hearth) “Fireplace and stove sales are on a good upswing.”

Virginia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Slow month.”

Midwest

Indiana: (Hearth, BBQ) “The month was flat, not much change from last year, but up 12 percent year-to-date.”

Indiana: (Hearth) “Fantastic year. Doubled sales in hearth products so far this year. Loved the winter weather we had. Expect it to carry over to the coming fall and winter.”

Michigan: (Patio, BBQ) “Heavy snowfall led to a hard opening. It’s hard for consumers to ‘think summer’ when there is two feet of snow on the ground.”

Michigan: “Still riding the pellet and wood stove wave from a brutal winter and high LP prices. Expect this to carry through the summer. Spas a little slow due to the late spring.”

Missouri: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Finally some recovery. It’s like 2006 all over again.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “Remodeling projects have already started rolling in. Big Green Eggs have hatched and they are flying out the door.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “Awesome month. Made up for the previous two months. Sales almost equaled April 2004.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Very strong retail sales. First quarter and start of second quarter volume was more typical of quarter four volume.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Sales have been like the weather – dismal.”


Consumer Confidence

While the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined a bit in April, dipping to 82.3 from a revised reading of 83.9 in March, it still represents the highest April reading since 2007 (106.3). According to Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, “…while sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing the momentum that has been building up over the past several months.”

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

California: (Hearth, BBQ) “April showed a slightly decelerated profit growth, but was nonetheless a great month. Contractor sales were up 14 percent. Foot traffic declined four percent. Overall we can’t complain.”

California: (Hearth) “Down for the month, but still up 20 percent for the year. Optimistic.”

California: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “First two weeks of April were completely quiet. Tax time? Last two weeks were better, but still slow.”

Colorado: (Hearth, BBQ) “In number of stove sales we were up 100 percent. It’s been a better spring for new construction and remodels. Even residential customers are coming out of the woodwork. If the fire season doesn’t get us, we will be in good shape.”

Idaho: “Hot tubs are super hot and BBQs are not.”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ, Hot Tubs/Spas) “April was a very good sales month compared to last year. We expect spa and hot tub sales to continue to grow as we expand our inventory.”

Washington: (Hearth) “A depressed 2013 led to a big percentage jump this year. We’re back to normal range.”

Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Still way up from two years ago.”

Canada

Alberta: (Hearth, BBQ) “April was strong. Consumers are positive. Our closing rate is over 80 percent.”

Alberta: (Hearth) “After three great months, I’ll settle for flat.”

British Columbia: (Hearth) “Seeing a big interest in catalytic stoves due to high LP prices.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “We had a stellar April as we continued to gain market share. Sales more than doubled from April 2013.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “April was really strong. Lots more people out shopping. Warm weather helped push BBQ sales significantly. Hearth was even with last year, but more people are looking to do something later this year. Very optimistic outlook.”

Ontario: (Patio, BBQ) “Down. The cold spring is the big story.”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Cold, wet April. Still ice in Georgian Bay.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “Customers are gravitating to premium models and spending more on accessories.”

Ontario: (Patio) “Bad winter, but we should be OK when the weather changes.”

Saskatchewan: (Hearth) “Lots of pricing going on this time of the year. People are in a crusty mood because of the weather, but we still had a couple of good sales spurts.”


Stock Watch

COMPANY – EXCHANGESYMBOL52 WEEKWeek Ending% CHANGEMARKET CAPITALIZATION
    High Low 28-Mar-14 25-Apr-14 4 Week 26 Week 52 Week ($000,000)
Furniture Brands International (d) FBNIQ 0.87 0.05 0.09 0.06 -34.8% NA NA $0.5
HNI Corporation (a) HNI 40.73 31.00 35.41 35.25 -0.5% -10.4% 5.8% $1,589.8
Pool Corporation (b) POOL 62.84 47.68 60.24 58.25 -3.3% 5.6% 19.0% $2,621.3
Restoration Hardware Holdings (a)(c) RH 78.50 38.19 71.93 62.62 -12.9% -10.5% 63.7% $2,436.5

(a) = New York Stock Exchange
(b) = NASDAQ
(c) = Restoration Hardware Holdings issued their intial public offering on Nov 1, 2012. Shares are trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol RH. We will include respective data points as they occur.
(d) = OTCQB

St. Louis - November 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) Furniture Brands International announced today that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has declared an affiliate of KPS Capital Partners, LP ("KPS") as the winning bidder in the auction to acquire substantially all of the company's assets. Furniture Brands and KPS expect to complete the transaction in the next several business days.


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