May 27, 2022 - Economy

Grill sales slumping as Memorial Day weekend arrives

Illustration of a charcoal grill with a kabob shaped like an arrow pointing downward

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Grilling season won’t have quite as much sizzle this year.

What’s happening: With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, sales of outdoor grills have fallen in 2022 as Americans are diverting spending elsewhere, or looking to save.

  • Grill masters Weber and Traeger reported first-quarter sales declines of 7% and 5%, respectively.

“Since the beginning of March, the industry has seen a significant drop-off in year-over-year point-of-sale data with sharply reduced shopper traffic, both in retail stores and online,” Weber CEO Chris Scherzinger said on a conference call last week.

The big picture: The trend is another sign that consumer spending is shifting, as the economy rebalances after a heavy pandemic tilt toward durable goods and home items.

  • “A lot of demand was pulled forward over the last two years, especially among durable goods sales,” CFRA Research analyst Arun Sundaram tells Axios.

💭 Nathan's thought bubble: After a couple years of cooking their own food more often than usual, many Americans are ready to have someone else do the cooking for them.

  • “A return to travel for many families” is among the key reasons for the decline in grill sales, Scherzinger said. “Right now we are seeing a lot of pent-up demand for going out in travel and services."
  • “A shift in consumer spending away from durables towards services” is undermining sales, Traeger CEO Jeremy Andrus told investors in a recent conference call.

Yes, but: A general slowdown in spending is also at play.

  • While acknowledging “a pull-forward dynamic” in the early days of the pandemic, Scherzinger said the company is now facing “macro pressures on consumers,” including inflation, rising gas prices and stock market volatility.
  • “Those factors to me are more fundamental to the drop in retail traffic and category-wide performance,” he said.
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