2017 Retail: Past & Future
By Richard Wright
This is the third December issue where the contents are primarily from specialty retailers. Who better to answer questions such as, How were your sales in 2017? What’s your forecast for 2018?
Once again we divided the country into four regions: Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Then we assigned three writers the task of interviewing four specialty retailers in each region. That’s 16 retailers each for a total of 48 retailers. In turn, they were split into the three industries that we cover – Hearth, Patio and Barbecue.
Each writer was also asked to write an in-depth article on one particular retailer.
Bill Sendelback found that, after a few very mediocre years, it’s fair to say that 2017 was a good year for hearth products. Gas fireplaces and inserts were two of the strongest hearth product categories this year, and electric fireplaces are finally gaining acceptance among hearth retailers. The fact that more homebuilders are now embracing electric fireplaces could signal a tipping point (in the right direction) for a product that has had difficulty being accepted by the specialty retail network.
Lisa Readie-Mayer tells us that pellet grills are finally on a roll. We recall many moons ago (close to 30 years) being introduced to a perfectly cooked, and very moist, chicken on a Whitfield pellet grill while in Bend, Oregon. At the time, we thought it was a category that would really take off. Now, 30 years later, that prophesy has come to pass.
Sales of patio furniture were all over the board, according to Tom Lassiter. But resin furniture appears to have sold very well throughout most of the country. Fire pits continue their amazing move into millions of backyards, and wood furniture – primarily teak and ipe – had another good year.