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Pool sales skyrocket as consumers splash out on coronavirus cocoons





The swimming pool boom illustrates how the health crisis has altered consumer habits in favour of stay-at-home businesses as the world struggles to contain new outbreaks and some people avoid beaches, pools and lakes to vacation at home.


In Indianapolis, Tyler Hermon, sales director at Pools of Fun, said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing after an initial lull and sales are now up 43% from a year ago.


“I 100 percent attribute this to people quarantined at home,” he said, adding that customers faced a three-week wait for an appointment just to talk about installations for 2021.


“The race is now on to get on the schedule for next year because everyone’s anticipating there will be another round, another wave.”


About 45% of members of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, the main U.S. industry trade group, forecast revenues would rise 10% or more this year.


“We’re hearing from members that have contracts booked out to late 2021 and even into early 2022,” said the alliance’s president Sabeena Hickman.


Across the United States and Europe, manufacturers and distributors of swimming pools and hot tubs are scrambling to meet a wave of demand as consumers cocoon at home to escape the coronavirus pandemic.


Frustrated by the long lead times and worried about a second wave of infections, some U.S. consumers have even resorted to fashioning home-made pools out of metal livestock tanks despite the health and safety concerns.


“I’ve been in this industry for 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Thomas Epple, chief executive of Only Alpha Pool Products in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Epple said orders for its steel and composite pool walls surged 200% in 60 days after a lacklustre March and April and he has now doubled output by taking on more workers, adding shifts and paying lots of overtime.


“The shortage of materials in the industry is great - pumps, heaters, above-ground pools have been sold out for some time.”


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