Turn Up the Heat on Grill Sales

Americans love a good barbeque. Most of us can’t resist firing up the grill and showing off our culinary skills when it’s time to entertain outdoors. A few years ago, grilling was a summer pastime. When the season was over, grills were tucked away and retrieved the following year. However, that changed when grilling maestro’s and cooking videos showed everyone how to grill with style and flair. That’s good news for home improvement retailers who want to engage consumers and keep customers coming back for more.


The industry generated $1.47 billion in grill sales in 2016. That figure has grown in the past three years at a steady pace. Some retailers have paid little attention to this trend and continue to roll out a few grills every spring with little fanfare. Even stores with limited space can turn selling grills and accessories into a profitable niche business. Here are a few facts to consider:

  • Seven in 10 adults in the U.S. own a grill or smoker
  • 56 percent of grill purchases are replacements
  • 29 percent of grills are first time purchases
    (Source: HPBA State of the Barbecue Industry Report)

Many consumers who enjoy grilling are ready to upgrade. Almost 50 percent of the people who already own a grill plan to buy a new grill within the next two years. Thirty-five percent of these consumers want to buy a better-quality model. Stocking more expensive grills, beyond basic models gives consumers options to trade-up and can motivate them to purchase at specific stores. This can happen without ramping up inventory. Keeping a model of the grills on display, and one or two in stock can accommodate customers who want to take their purchase home right away.

  • 35 percent want to upgrade to a better model
  • 23 percent plan to replace a broken/worn out grill
  • 11 percent want a different type of grill
    (Source: Mintel’s Grilling and Barbecuing U.S. report)

Consumers are accustomed to ordering online and waiting a few days to receive their merchandise. Most people who buy expensive grills have already done their research and typically come into the store to get a feel for the product and make their final purchase. Offer free delivery and optional low-cost assembly for grills that cost over a specific dollar amount. You can then place an order with your wholesaler or vendor, and deliver the merchandise to the customer after it arrives. Be sure to specify a realistic delivery date at the time customers purchases their grills to avoid disappointing them later.

Food Trends Impacts Grilling
Whether it’s Italian, Mexican, Greek, or Chinese—ethnic food has taken center stage. Consumers who want to create the perfect meal outdoors are always buying new tools and accessories to add to their collection. Keeping these items handy gives them the option to cook non-traditional foods on the grill. They hope to duplicate the meals served in their favorite restaurants or those prepared in the comfort of their kitchen. Consumers want to experience grilling in their own unique ways. Eighty-three percent of consumers own three or more accessories to make grilling more enjoyable.

While rotisseries (35 percent) and rib racks (30 percent) are popular choices, consumers also buy metal baskets for fish and seafood, woks to cook Asian food, and pizza stones. There are many possibilities. When planning the assortments to sell, ask yourself a few questions. Are many of your customers Baby Boomers who enjoy entertaining in an outdoor oasis at home? Or, are they Millennials who also pack up their grills for sporting events and tailgating parties? Your answers can help determine the types of grills and accessory assortment to sell. Taking your customer’s lifestyle into account to generate more add-on sales, and offer products with higher mark-ups.

  • 99 percent of grill owners grill at home
  • 77 percent of Millennials take their grill to the park, camping or a friend’s house
  • Almost 50 percent use portable electric, or charcoal grills to cook away from home
  • 45 percent of grillers transport full-size grills when grilling at a family or friend’s home
    (Source: Mintel’s Grilling and Barbecuing U.S. report)

Spice Things up with Sauces and Marinades
Grilling is popular because it adds a distinctive flavor to food. However, consumers want to spice things up even more with sauces and marinades. Cooking sauces, marinades, and dressings generated $9.1 billion in 2018, and sales have continued to climb. As mentioned earlier, consumers want options and look forward to trying new products. Offering sauces and accessories to accompany grills adds visual interest and a pop of color to the grill area. Focus on providing unusual flavors or local brands to promote repeat sales.

Get the Word Out
Post updates on your website throughout the year to remind customers to shop your business for grills, accessories, and other specialty products.Cold weather doesn’t stop the action. Although grilling peaks in the summer, it’s also popular in the spring and winter. People grill for the Super Bowl (23 percent), Thanksgiving (14 percent), Christmas or Chanukah (10 percent), and New Year’s (9 percent). Then, of course, there are the lifestyle-related activities beyond the holidays that keep grills going strong.

  • 49 percent barbeque for birthday parties
  • 24 percent grill during camping trips
  • 21 percent grill at a vacation home party
  • 11 percent take grills to a tailgating party or sporting event
    (Source: HPBA State of the Barbecue Industry Report)

When it’s cold outside, encourage customers to order online and come into the store to pick up their merchandise. Be sure the product information is informative and written in a customer-friendly style to make it easy to understand the product’s features and benefits.

Retailers who invest the time and space required to sell grills can enhance the overall shopping experience. “Barbecuing is no longer just a pastime, but an integral part of the North American lifestyle, said Jack Goldman, president, and CEO, Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. “We expect consumers passion for flavorful food and entertaining their family to continue. The future for the barbecue industry looks bright.”

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