Leaving money on the table
Still believe that the "barbecue season" is only six months long? You're leaving money on the table.
I don't know what it will take to convince hearth and patio retailers that there is no longer any such thing as "the barbecue season." The fact is that passionate barbecuers and grillers are out in their backyards 12 months out of the year (Yes, even in the snow!), using their outdoor cooking units.
I've worked full time for two grill manufacturing companies, and have experienced firsthand the fact that when the winter holidays roll around, the opportunity to sell grills, accessories and fuel spikes up, not down. And, this is in a product category where the retail price of the grill is above average for the industry.
As a passionate barbecuer it's not unusual at all for me to be using my grill during the months, where in Oregon, its cold, wet and windy. The reason? You just can't beat the flavor of meat smoked and cooked on an outdoor grill. I'm not alone. According to the HPBA, 56% of all grill owners use them during the winter. This percentage represents a high-use category in fuel, accessories and seasonings. What are you doing to keep us coming into your store all year long?
What I'm trying to convey to all of you is the fact that even during the coldest months of the year, there's still plenty of opportunity to sell grills, fuel and accessories. You, of all classes of retail have a prime opportunity to snag sales after the big box stores have cleared the decks of summer seasonal merchandise, which includes grills. Where else is the consumer going to find these items? Your store would be a good starting point.
The challenge is to convey to the consumer that you are as passionate as they are about year-round outdoor cooking. This is where holding classes and seminars in how to properly barbecue, grill or smoke holiday meats such as turkey, ham or prime rib can help to generate additional sales. If you show them how to cook it, they will come and buy. I know, I've done it.
By ignoring this opportunity, you are in effect leaving money on the table, to be grabbed by another discretionary purchase or retailer who "gets it."