Let’s travel back to the mid-1980s, shall we? In many ways, things were quite different from the mid-2000s. For example, a 1984 survey showed total sales of pools and spas nationwide up 22 percent over the previous year. No, that’s not a typo!
The survey of more than 1,600 pool and spa builders was conducted by the National Spa & Pool Institute (now called Association of Pool & Spa Professionals). Get a load of the breakdown: residential inground pool sales up 9 percent in 1984 over 1983; residential aboveground pool sales up 26 percent (wow!); sales of semi-public and public inground pools up 16.1 percent; and spa/hot tub sales up 19.4 percent. Total inground pool construction nationwide was up 9.3 percent. Ready for the final stat? Total number of pools, spas and hot tubs sold in the USA in 1984: 655,280 vs. 538,000 in 1983.
It kind of takes your breath away.
So what was going on at the time? Real estate experienced what many call a “golden era” in the 1970s. Housing starts and home sales skyrocketed as the first of the big baby boom generation became proud homeowners, with existing-home sales hitting 4 million in 1978. Then the roller coaster ride began. During the ‘80s, construction and sales would soar, then plummet due to some event or legislation. For instance, the housing market took a nosedive as the ‘80s began due to mortgage rates of 17 and 18 percent, say economic experts. By 1983, things were looking up, housing started to climb – and pool/spa business flourished. Then Congress passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, eliminating many real estate tax shelters. Some say that eventually led to a downturn in the real estate market in the early ‘90s, and even played a significant role in the subsequent savings and loan crisis.
Ultimately, of course, the question is: Will we ever see pool and spa numbers like those of ‘84 again? Hope so!
Next time: The spotlight will be on an aquatic “golden boy” who made headlines in the ‘80s and beyond. He had plenty to say when I interviewed him. Can you guess who it is? See you next week!