Toronto

Having a hard time finding a pool, hot tub or trampoline to buy? Here's why

Pool, hot tub and trampoline sales have dramatically increased this season since public pools and splash pads remain closed throughout the GTA, and summer camps, sports, travel and other activities are cancelled.

Some stores nearly sold out 2 months into the pandemic

Bodie and Aubrey Charles' parents purchased an above-ground pool at the beginning of the pandemic. (Supplied/Diana Fridlyand)

Diana Fridlyand's family is grateful she had the foresight to buy an above-ground pool back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic started forcing closures and cancellations.

She had a feeling more would be coming and her family's summer wouldn't go as planned, so she bought a pool to keep her sons, aged six and three, busy, active and cool.

"We used to be go, go, go with activities, which have all been cancelled," Fridlyand said. "Rather than going for a walk or watching TV, now we can jump in the pool."

Pool, hot tub and trampoline sales have dramatically increased this season since public pools and splash pads have been closed throughout the GTA, and summer camps, sports, travel and other activities are cancelled.

And while the provincial government has allowed other regions that have moved to Stage 2 of its reopening plan to open pools and splash pads, they have to remain closed in the GTA and other parts of southern Ontario where daily counts of COVID-19 cases haven't come down far enough.

Meantime, Fridyland's husband, Brent Charles, says he's seen the same model of pool they purchased from Canadian Tire being resold online for $500 more than what they paid.

The pool at Ledbury Park is one of the City of Toronto's 58 outdoor swimming pools that have been closed during the pandemic. (Angelina King/CBC)

"Almost like scalping hockey tickets, people are scalping pools," he said.

"If we thought of [buying one] now, we'd be swimming on dry land."

Many products sold out for the season

The general manager of Leisure Industries in Oakville says the store sold a season's worth of above-ground pools by May. 

Pat King says they're practically sold out of all inventory and most models aren't available until next summer.

"In my 52 years, I've never seen anything like it," he said

"Our suppliers are sold out. The suppliers of our suppliers are sold out."

WATCH: CBC Toronto's Angelina King on why you might not be able to buy a pool or hot tub this summer

Pool and hot tub store owners say business has increased dramatically since families are stuck at home this summer — and it has some struggling to keep up with the demand. 2:20

All the hot tubs in the showroom at Markham's Seaway Pools & Hot Tubs are spoken for. 

Although the company is being strategic about ordering, the wait for one is about two months, according to general manager Gary Kahoon.

All hot tubs in the showroom at Seaway Pools & Hot Tubs in Markham, Ont., are sold and the wait for a new one is about two months. (Angelina King/CBC)

He says a lot of families are using the money they would have spent on a summer vacation or activities to create a backyard staycation oasis.

"We're definitely seeing that spike in new customers and [people] spending more money in the backyard for sure," he said.

All six Springfree Trampoline stores across Canada are sold out of their inventory, including at the company's headquarters in Markham.

Springfree's president, Steven Holmes, says there are 9,000 customers signed up to be alerted when more stock becomes available. He says the company nearly sold out as soon as the pandemic hit in March —  around the same time parts of the supply chain halted.

The president of Springfree Trampoline says there's been a 300-per-cent increase in demand since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Supplied/Springfree Trampoline)

"In the case of Canada for trampoline sales, it was kind of a Catch-22," Holmes said.

He says there's less than half the supply in the Canadian market compared to previous years, and a 300-per-cent increase in demand.

Pandemic creating waves of in-demand products

Just as toilet paper, cleaning products and non-perishable food items became scarce at the beginning of the pandemic, backyard items are the next wave of products that are in short supply, according to Michael LeBlanc, senior retail adviser with the Retail Council of Canada.

"Everywhere consumers are kind of thinking the same thing ... so the overall demand is clearly outstripping the supply," he said.

Michael LeBlanc, senior retail adviser with the Retail Council of Canada, says backyard purchases are the next wave of popular items now in high demand during the pandemic. (Supplied/Michael LeBlanc)

LeBlanc says it's difficult to meet the demand for larger items, particularly pools and hot tubs, because they're not as easy to manufacture as, say, toilet paper and pasta.

"These things don't get turned around overnight," he said.

LeBlanc says they're often manufactured in the winter, shipped in the spring and sold in the summer. 

While manufacturers are doing their best to keep up, LeBlanc says the supply chain is moving slower during the pandemic with factories following physical distancing and health and safety guidelines.

"Retailers saw this coming months ago that there's almost nothing they could do about it," he said.

Apartment dweller hopes to rent a pool

Since Lauren Cherry-Turk lives in an apartment in Toronto's Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue area and can't buy her own pool, she's hoping a friendly neighbour will rent one to her.

She joined a small chorus of people inquiring about the possibility in an online neighbourhood Facebook page.

"I just thought it was such a cool idea because I live in a building with no backyard and I don't have outdoor space to begin with," she said.       

Lauren Cherry-Turk is hoping she can rent someone's backyard pool for her son Dallas and his older sister to enjoy this summer. (Angelina King/CBC)

She's used to taking her now 13-month-old son and his older sister to Ledbury Park outdoor pool. So far, Cherry-Turk hasn't heard from anyone willing to rent out their pool, but she's hopeful Toronto will open its 58 outdoor public pools and nearly 150 splash pads before the summer is over.

"We pretty much spent every single day there," she said.

"We really miss it because it was a huge social thing for us and great for [the kids]."

About the Author

Angelina King is a reporter with CBC Toronto where she covers a wide range of stories. She has a particular interest in crime, legal and justice issues and human interest stories. She previously reported on national and international news. Angelina got her start in her home city of Saskatoon where she spent much of her time covering the courts. You can contact her at angelina.king@cbc.ca or @angelinaaking

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