COVID-19, Outdoor Living, & Other Factors Affecting the US Outdoor Furniture & Grill Market

COVID-19, Outdoor Living, & Other Factors Affecting the US Outdoor Furniture & Grill Market

US demand for outdoor furniture and grills is expected to approach $12 billion in 2024, bolstered by the increasing popularity of outdoor living, which spurs consumers to purchase products to make outdoor spaces more comfortable, functional, and stylish. A number of factors will affect short- and long-term growth potential, notably:

  • construction activity and existing home sales, as outdoor furniture and grills are often purchased immediately after construction is completed or a home is sold
  • the health of the economy, with consumers and commercial entities alike more likely to invest in their outdoor spaces when the economic outlook is bright

As a result, a significant near-term impact is expected due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. However, once the effects of the crisis begin to subside later in 2020 and into 2021 – and construction, economic, and home-buying activities rebound – the market is expected to make a swift recovery and sustain rosy growth prospects over the longer term.

Below are some of the major trends affecting the US outdoor furniture and grill market – through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

COVID-19 wreaks havoc on 2020 growth prospects

In 2020, demand for outdoor furniture and grills in the US is expected to decline as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. While the full extent of the impact remains to be seen, declines in economic activity will hurt short-term consumer sales – especially given the timing of the onset, just prior to spring and summer, which are important sales months in this highly seasonal industry.

Furthermore, government-mandated closures of nonessential businesses will hinder near-term sales opportunities in the commercial market, as many of the most affected businesses – including bars, restaurants, and lodging facilities – are among the most significant buyers of outdoor furniture and grills.

These mandates are also affecting product distribution, as sales channels that are permitted to remain open – such as e-commerce retailers, mass merchandisers, and home centers (e.g., Walmart, Home Depot) – tend to have a more limited (and lower value) selection of stock compared to nonessential businesses that are being forced to close, such as specialty retailers, which are also better positioned to provide higher value-added customer services.

Nevertheless, purchasing patterns are expected to normalize following the crisis and significant changes in the long-term outlook through 2024 and key market trends are not expected.

Outdoor living trends continue to adapt, evolve, and expand

Consumer interest in creating evermore elaborate outdoor living areas – such as outdoor kitchens, dining spaces, and chat groups – and the increasing availability of easy-to-install, lower cost, and modular products are driving growth opportunities for outdoor furniture and grill suppliers, as the consumer base for these products continues to expand. Accordingly, outdoor furniture and grill manufacturers are increasingly designing products to:

  • be adaptable to outdoor living spaces of various configurations and sizes (e.g., small patio furniture sets for limited urban outdoor spaces)
  • support easy DIY installation/assembly (e.g., WC Bradley’s Char Broil Modular Outdoor Kitchen set, which includes a built-in grill)
  • streamline e-commerce order fulfillment
  • serve multiple functions – such as a patio table with a fire element pre-installed in the center (e.g., American Fyre Designs’ range of metal, stone, and reclaimed wood fire tables)

Furthermore, whether they are simply buying a new grill or dining furniture set for their backyard – or investing in an elaborate outdoor kitchen installation – consumers are looking for a blend of aesthetics and durability in their purchases. Similarly, products that offer low maintenance and durability will garner commercial investment as well. However, as product durability improves, lower replacement rates will somewhat limit growth going forward.

Grills benefitting from consumer interest in convenience & functionality

Despite the maturity of the grill market, sales gains are being powered by consumer trends favoring products that offer improved convenience and functionality. For example:

  • Outdoor kitchens allow consumers to enjoy the outdoors while cooking in a setting that functions in a similar way to an indoor kitchen. These installations often contain gas grills.
  • Pellet grills are increasingly popular because of their ability to provide flavor and the added convenience of temperature control. These products are increasingly paired with more advanced controlling technology.
  • Kamado grills also continue to grow in popularity, including their use as a complement to gas grills in outdoor kitchens.

Furthermore, Freedonia Group consumer survey data show multiple grill ownership is increasingly prevalent, with consumers buying charcoal or other solid fuel grills for flavor and gas grills for convenience. Additionally, rising interest in high-performance, high-priced gas grills with enhanced features will help boost average pricing and overall market value.

Metal to remain leading outdoor furniture material while wicker & rattan make inroads

Metal-based products accounted for the majority of outdoor furniture sales in 2019 and will make up 76% of new sales through 2024. Metal dominates the market not only due to the sheer volume of low-cost aluminum products sold each year, but also because it competes in high-end markets and sees continued appeal in various applications.

Though a much smaller segment (accounting for 5% of outdoor furniture sales in 2019), wicker and rattan is expected to see robust annual growth through 2024, driven by:

  • the use of wicker in increasingly popular products – which are themselves driven by their use in outdoor living spaces – such as deep seating chairs and chat groups, which typically include several seats, often wicker deep seating chairs, loveseats, and sofas
  • the material’s popularity in the South, which is bolstered by the above average growth in the region’s economy, population, and construction markets
  • all-weather wicker’s increasingly wide availability, which reduces wicker furniture’s maintenance requirements but maintains the look of true wicker, a relatively upscale material for outdoor furniture

More information is available in the Outdoor Furniture & Grills and Outdoor Kitchens studies:

About the Author:

Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.

  Consumer Goods      Industry Studies