There has been some doom and gloom recently about the grill segment being down year-over-year. There are definitely macroeconomic pressures with inflation, supply chain issues (that might be improving) and a possible recession, but is that being seen in the grill market? We take a look at our own data set and analyze.
As a proxy for consumer interest in the grill segment, we used data from Google with the search topic “barbecue grill”. That’s a very generic, consumer based term that we feel should be representative of how much interest there is in grills. It’s worth noting, that search volume doesn’t necessarily translate to sales, but may be indicative.
To make the dataset more digestible we looked at just April and May since 2010. That’s the start of when grilling season starts to pickup. We already know how Weber and Traeger performed in Q1 of this year, based on their earnings.
Looking at the search volume, we see how much of an effect Covid had on grilling. The way the graph works is that each number represents a percentage of the highest search volume. The highest search volume ever for the the top of barbecue grills was in May of 2020. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as everybody was looking to get outside, so that event dramatically increased the 2020 grilling season popularity.
The second highest grilling season in terms of Google search volume was in 2021. There were two things happening in 2021 that boosted popularity. 1) Covid was still very much going on and 2) government stimulus payments started going out to consumers ahead of grilling season. The positive effect that the stimulus payments had on outdoor cooking sales was noted by Solo Brands’ CEO in their recent Investment Summit, saying that you could see sales increases right when consumers received checks.
Acknowledging that 2020 and 2021 can’t be repeated in the near future, without outside dynamics, should those really be considered the base for growth of the segment? Looking at the data so far this year, we have the highest search volume ever for April and May outside of 2020 and 2021. That shows that despite possible pull-ahead grill sales in the previous 2 years, there’s still growth.
Not only are the highs higher than every year, excluding 2020 and 2021, the lows are also higher.
In this graph, it shows Google search volume data for every month since Google started collecting it. You can see that so far in 2021 the low in January was higher than the low in any other year outside of 2021. The peak in 2019 was in June at 70% of the highest search volume, so it will be interesting to see what June this year brings.
It’s surprising how much search volume there still was in April and May, despite inflation and recessionary pressures. We still have a couple months before earnings for the strongest months of the grilling season are released. That will tell us if it translated to revenue. It’s important to reset where the segment should be though and it doesn’t seem realistic to use 2020 and 2021 as a base.