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Hearth & Home December 2015

2015 Retail: Past & Future

By Richard Wright

Hearth & Home talked to retailers throughout North America – hearth dealers had a Fair year, patio dealers had a Good year, and barbecue dealers had a Damn Good Year!

Against a backdrop of low oil prices and housing starts that still are only halfway back to the numbers achieved prior to the recession, it’s really not a surprise that sales of cordwood and pellet appliances were rather anemic this year.

The star of the show appears to be the large, expensive, linear gas fireplaces that truly are statement pieces (at least most of them). A line of fire remains something new and exciting – and consumers are responding.

It seems accurate to say that the hearth industry experienced “A Fair Year” in 2015.

“Considering that 2015 began with six weeks of snow followed by six more weeks of winter,” says Doug Shearer at Paine’s Patio on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, “we had a tremendous (patio) season, definitely our best ever.”

All the way across the country, in southern California, Doug Sanicola at Outdoor Elegance is up four percent over 2014 (remember, that’s ground zero for the Great Recession), and “our average sales dollars have increased tremendously.”

Let’s call it “A Good Year” for the patio industry.

Though rain dampened sales in April and May, “it was a very good (barbecue) year for us,” says Scott Horvath of O’Malia’s Fireplace & Outdoor Living in Carmel, Indiana. He, and other retailers interviewed in this section, have found that partnering with landscape architects and designers is the best way to pursue outdoor kitchens.”

Farther west, in Colorado, Joel Bulick of Surroundings: The Store for Outdoor Living, is up 25 percent. “We are most definitely out of the recession,” he says. “It reminds me of the Good Old Days!”

That’s the message sent by many barbecue retailers, and why we’re labeling the section “A Damn Good Year!”

In the words of retailers from around North America, you should find ideas that are beneficial to your business. There are three parts to this feature article – Hearth, Patio, Barbecue. Within those areas you will find conversations our writers had with 15 to 20 dealers, followed by a major profile of one retailer in particular.

Hearth Retailers

Past & Future

Hearth Retailers

Past & Future

Hearth Retailers

Past & Future

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2015 October Business Climate

In early November, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare October 2015 sales to October 2014. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 203 useable returns.

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