Some Island companies that sell and install pools and hot tubs say they've never experienced the kind of demand they're seeing this year — and people who are looking to purchase one should be prepared to wait.
Wayne Gallinger, who owns Island Hot Tubs and Pools, has been in the business for more than 25 years. He said demand has gone up significantly across P.E.I. in the last year, while supplies for pools and hot tubs have become harder and harder to keep in stock.
"We're finding that whatever we have, we're pretty much sold out," Gallinger said.
With people staying home and unable to travel during the pandemic, more customers were coming to the store looking for ways to entertain at home, Gallinger said.
"People all of a sudden decided, 'If we're going to stay home, let's spend money in our backyards,'" he said.
The company handles the sale and installation of pools and hot tubs for customers. Typically at this time of year, the company is still trying to drum up business for installations for the summer and fall. But this year, he said all the installation bookings for 2021 were filled months ago.
"We already had those queues filled probably by, I would say last September," Gallinger said. "We're already booking into 2022 for both above-ground installations and our in-ground installations."
But he said despite the current wait for an installation, some people are still buying pools now in the hope that they can find a way to get one installed sooner.
"People are saying, 'We'll take the pool and we'll worry about getting it installed ourselves,'" he said.
Supply chain shortages
Gallinger said this situation isn't unique to P.E.I. The industry across the country is trying to adapt to growing demand and a dwindling supply of pools, hut tubs, chemicals and accessories.
"Everything is in such high demand and there's such a shortage with everything," he said.
From pool toys to cleaning supplies, he said customers have been coming to the store and buying products in bulk this winter, some concerned they won't be able to find them come summer.
He said the company had to submit its orders to the manufacturers of products for this year's inventory last year, but getting any new stock at this point will be a challenge.
"We have a tremendous amount of warehousing available on-site and all our warehouses are full — completely full — and that inventory is all pretty much sold," he said.
Matthew Pauptit has been installing and maintaining pools for over a decade and started his own company last year. He said he's been getting referrals from other companies that can't book customers in for installations, while also managing bookings for customers of his own.
He said finding supplies was difficult last year and he expects it to be even harder during the year ahead.
"It's been a struggle to get pools, to get supplies, and I guess the big thing this year is liners. Customers are buying pools quick, pools are selling out fast through local companies, through my company, through online companies," he said.
"Pools are going to be limited, they're going to be hard to get."
His advice to anyone who's thinking about getting a pool? Do your research, start calling now and be prepared to wait.
In Charlottetown, any pool that isn't inflatable needs a development permit and a pool needs to be completely surrounded by a fence or structure that is at least six feet high.
City officials say the number of pool permits issued during the pandemic did go up from previous years. There were 16 pool permits issued in 2020 — the highest since at least 2010. Thirteen permits were issued in 2019 and five in 2018.
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