The pool and spa industry contributed more than $5.4 billion to Florida’s economy in 2014.
That’s according to a new study commissioned by the Florida Swimming Pool Association.
The research compiled by Alpharetta, Ga.-based Pkdata substantiates what many have been saying over the past couple of years — that the industry is well into recovery mode in the Sunshine State.
“Overall, we’re very pleased with these numbers,” said FSPA Executive Director Wendy Parker Barsell. “We hit a bump, but everyone is coming back, and we’re making a difference in the Florida economy.”
According to the study, the industry created 66,006 jobs. It’s difficult to know how that figure compares with similar industries, Parker Barsell said. But she and other industry officials hope it is significant enough to give lawmakers pause before they push any threatening legislation down the pipeline.
But while the industry is pleased to represent a $5 billion boon to the state (a figure that also factors in taxes and indirect effects), that number falls considerably short of Florida’s pre-recession high.
FSPA’s 2006 economic impact study valued the pool and spa market at $10.5 billion, Parker Barsell said.
Though down by half overall, pool and spa construction in the state easily outpaces the rest of the nation. In 2014, inground construction was up 4 percent nationwide over the previous year. It’s up 9 percent in Florida, said William Kennedy, president of Pkdata.
That jibes with what Jack Portofino is experiencing.
“We’re seeing a surge very similar to last year,” said the president of Portofino Pool Services & Outdoor Living in Jacksonville. “We’re expecting great things.”
The demand also has created a bit of a backlog, he said. Companies in his market area are taking weeks to prepare proposals because skilled labor is in short supply and material providers are requesting more lead time.
In 2014, the installation and construction of new inground pools in Florida resulted in approximately $1 billion in sales revenue. Renovation of inground pools contributed slightly more than $255 million, with about $223 million in residential and $31 million in commercial pool refurbishments.
The retail and service side fared better, with a total dollar volume of approximately $1.8 billion.
That’s a trend that has continued since the recession. The aftermarket sector outpaces construction when housing starts flatline, naturally. But it also indicates people may be investing more in their pools.
“I think the aftermarket tracks more with consumer spending in general,” said Bill Kent, Ph.D., CEO of Team Horner, a distributor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
During the worst part of the recession, homeowners were scaling back on maintenance necessities such as chlorine, he said. But it appears consumer spending is up as people now are beginning to splurge on higher-end equipment and supplies.
All in all, the numbers are encouraging and correspond with what people are reporting in the field.
“The pools didn’t go away, and now things are back to good times,” Kent said. “Our sales have now exceeded 2006, and I think most of our competitors and customers have gotten to that stage, too.”