Backyard pools, hot tubs selling like hotcakes
Homebound New Brunswickers are spiffing up their properties with such zeal that supplies can be scarce
With New Brunswickers spending a lot more time at home, it's a good time to spruce up ol' the backyard.
Add a heat wave and maybe you're considering a new pool.
Well, think again.
A huge increase in demand and COVID-related supply chain problems are making pools a hot commodity.
In fact, many companies are having to turn away new customers.
Kelly Hare, who owns Rothesay-based Premium Pools and Spas with her husband, Tim Hickey, said she turns away three times as many people as she helps.
She figures she gets about 75 inquiries a day.
"We are swamped — beyond swamped," said Hare. "We're working pretty long days to keep up."
But with supplies dwindling, business is finally winding down a bit.
"We've run out of what we have. … Normally, I can get hot tubs in two weeks, and then it was three weeks, and then it was five weeks. Well, now it's like 10, 11, 12 weeks."
It's the same story for above-ground pools. What used to take a couple of weeks to get is now taking up to 16 weeks, said Hare.
Like a lot of industries, pool supply manufacturers shut down at the beginning of the pandemic and then reopened with a limited staff, said Hare.
That resulted in shortages at the very time that people were starting to call about spiffing up their backyards.
"So they were behind in their orders anyway because of the skeletal staff, and then the demand exploded," said Hare.
"If I could get more supplies, we would be working 12-hour days, six days a week. But now the problem is I can't get the supplies, so my crew is sort of starting to slow down now — on the above-grounds anyway. "
Brad Cross, owner of Waterworks Pools and Spas of Moncton, estimates that hot tub sales have almost tripled this year.
"We sold as many in April as we would in a full year," he said.
He's also experiencing delays in getting supplies. What used to take three days, can often take up to 60.
"Almost every day, we get another message from a manufacturer about another delay."
Cross, whose company also designs and installs backyard pools, said the increase is a result of people wanting to improve their surroundings, now that they're spending so much time at home.
"The idea is that people have been cooped up in their homes for a while, so we better put some work into the place to enjoy it more," said Cross.
Gabby Pearson of Amazon Pools and Spas in Fredericton said the stock the business would normally use for a full year was gone in May.
"We're putting in double the number of pools — if not more," said Pearson.
She said people are using the money they would have spent on summer travel to buy pools and hot tubs. And with sports just emerging tentatively out of the gate, she said parents were looking for ways to keep their children active, while sticking close to home.
That might also explain the run on trampolines, fishing gear and other sporting goods.
Marc Doiron of Doiron's Sports Excellence in Saint John is seeing some interesting buying trends as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The big seller is fishing gear.
"It's definitely the fishing," said Doiron. "People are getting out and enjoying our water system, that's for sure."
He said customers have been sharing stories about how they haven't fished for years, and now find themselves with a lot more time on their hands.
"We've seen lots of new faces. … They're getting back into it and getting their kids, and their grandkids, into it. So it's nice to see people are spending time together again.
"That hasn't happened for a long time. It's like the old days with people actually getting out."
In fact, fishing has caught on so much, Doiron said, he's sold out of a lot of the gear. While demand is high, it's partially because he can't restock the big sellers. Certainly not in enough time to take advantage of this year's fishing season.
"My supply chain has completely evaporated," he said.
In-line skates were also flying off the shelves during the lockdown, said Doiron.
"The Rollerblade scene was really hot, getting kids out of their house. So we've seen a huge increase in Rollerblade sales."
And the third biggest seller was training gear such as hitting nets — things that young athletes could use to hone their skills while team sports were on a COVID hiatus, said Doiron.
The demand for landscaping projects has also grown over the last couple of months, said Nathan Bartel, the manager of Bergman Landscape and Masonry Centres in Moncton.
"It's ramped up fast — faster than we would have thought," said Bartel.
He said a lot of customers have asked about putting in backyard pools, hot tubs and kitchens, or sprucing up their landscaping.
He said most landscapers are booked into the fall — and beyond, in some cases.