With the swimming season officially over, industry experts expect new-pool sales for 2010 to close a few percentage points higher than 2009.
Estimates for digs nationwide are predicted to come in between 45,000 to 50,000 for the year compared with approximately 45,000 in 2009.
“There was a little bit of a surge in April and May, which in part reflected pent-up demand from things that weren’t done in 2009,” said Manuel Perez de la Mesa, CEO of PoolCorpin Covington, La.
The Florida market, arguably the region hit hardest during this recession, also saw some of the strongest gains. Permit reports from the state’s major markets show that new-pool construction increased 12 percent in the Sunshine State from January through August, compared with the same period last year.
Another devastated market, the Phoenix metro area, also may be rising, according to anecdotal information. But permits seem to indicate a flat year, with activity up slightly less than 1 percent over 2009 numbers from January to August.
Texas, a market that has fared better than many other parts of the Sunbelt, saw a 2010 increase of close to 7 percent over the period of January through August in 2009.
And two areas with record-breaking rainfall last summer — the Northeast and Midwest — saw rebounds as well.
“I don’t think anybody is calling for parades to go down Broadway, but it is getting better,” said Lawrence Caniglia, executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association.
Nevertheless, some regions have seen decreases in sales. California experienced a 13 percent dip in January to August compared with the same period in 2009. The Las Vegas market also faced a down year, with permit information indicating a nearly 6 percent drop over the first eight months of last year.
As far as pool type went, vinyl and fiberglass held steadier than their concrete counterparts, due largely to the locations where they are popular.
“The markets that were hardest hit were areas like Florida, California, Arizona and Las Vegas, where the pools are largely concrete,” Perez de la Mesa explained.
Some say that fiberglass pools have actually gained market share.
“Before the recession, fiberglass pools made up the fastest-growing sector in the industry,” said Ashley Gill, CEO of Leisure Pools USA in San Antonio. “Everything got derailed during those recession years, but it seems to be bouncing back.”
Perhaps, but until consumer financing opens up and unemployment figures improve, industry experts expect to see the same single-digit growth.
“This recovery’s going to be 5 percent at a time,” predicted Jeff Fausett, president/CEO of Aquatech Corp.“It’s not going to leap up 20 percent in one year. Where new construction was once 250,000, it fell down [drastically] and it’s going to climb out 5,000 pools at a time each year.”