Sales of pool equipment and chemicals held steady through the end of July, and many industry professionals expect an above-average August as well.
“I think the season of elevated sales will be extended this year,” said Richard Howell, director of sales and marketing at Waterway Plastics in Oxnard, Calif.
Though the swim season can last into September, customers tend to make major pool-related purchases in June and early July, and taper off as the summer progresses.
This year, however, customers have continued to stock up on pool supplies — and even major equipment — well into late summer.
“In the final week of July, I signed a deal with one customer for a new filter, with another one for a new heater, and with two more for new pumps,” said Diane Carlson, vice president of Sky Blue Pool Supply in Los Gatos, Calif. “As far as I can tell, it seems like this is going to keep up into August.”
Pool professionals have suggested various reasons for this extended season, but climate seems to be the biggest explanation. A cold, wet spring throughout many regions of the country kept customers indoors waiting for warmer weather.
“People buy based on the weather as much as the season,” Howell said, “and this spring’s weather brought rains and floods throughout the Midwest and the Northeast.”
In addition, an unusually hot summer — which shows no sign of cooling down in many areas — is sustaining a selling season that’s longer than usual. This extended season may also be due to the economy.
“A few years ago we were at the bottom of a recession, which is just as important as the weather in influencing people’s buying decisions,” Howell said.
This year, however, many customers who had been holding off on equipment replacements have decided it’s not realistic to keep delaying these purchases, and have begun opening their wallets, according to industry retail experts.
“Our business has been up in new equipment this year — probably 15 percent vs. last year,” Carlson said.
Though the economy appears to be holding steady for the time being, retailers say this season’s continued profitability depends largely on how long the heat continues to help consumers keep their pools top of mind.
“I think it’s going to hold up longer than usual this year,” said Randy Gallagher, owner of Gallagher Pools & Spas, Westminster, Md.“As long as the weather stays hot, business seems to be staying up.”