According to PEI pool and hot tub retailers, demand has increased during the pandemic

Some island companies that sell and install pools and hot tubs say they have never seen the demand they see this year – and people looking to buy one should be ready to wait.

Wayne Gallinger, who owns Island Hot Tubs and Pools, has been in the business for more than 25 years. He said demand in PEI has increased significantly over the past year as it has become increasingly difficult to keep supplies for pools and hot tubs on hand.

“We find that everything we have is pretty much sold out,” said Gallinger.

With people staying at home and unable to travel during the pandemic, more and more customers came to the store looking for ways to chat at home, Gallinger said.

“People suddenly decided, ‘If we want to stay home, we spend money in our backyards,'” he said.

The company handles the sale and installation of pools and hot tubs for customers. As a rule, at this time of year the company is still trying to build up the business for installations for the summer and fall. But this year he said all installation bookings for 2021 were filled months ago.

Wayne Gallinger, who has sold pools and hot tubs for more than 25 years, says he has never seen such high demand and expects the trend to continue. (Brittany Spencer / CBC)

“We had probably already filled those queues, I would say, last September,” said Gallinger. “We are already booking up to 2022 for both above-ground installations and for our in-ground installations.”

But he said despite the current wait for an installation, some people are still buying pools in the hopes that they can find a way to install one sooner.

“People say, ‘We’re going to take the pool and worry about installing it ourselves,'” he said.

Supply chain bottlenecks

Gallinger said this situation was not unique to PEI. The industry across the country is trying to adapt to the growing demand and dwindling supply of pools, cottage tubs, chemicals and accessories.

“Everything is so in demand and there is such a lack of everything,” he said.

From pool toys to cleaning supplies, he said customers came to the store this winter and bought products in bulk. Some fear that they will not be able to find them in the summer.

He said the company had to place its orders with manufacturers of products for this year’s inventory last year, but getting new inventory at this point will be a challenge.

“We have a tremendous amount of inventory on site and all of our warehouses are full – totally full – and the inventory is as good as sold,” he said.

Matt Pauptit, owner of Pauptit Pools and Spas, said when he started his business last year he never expected to be as busy as he was. This year he expects even more calls from people hoping to have a pool installed. (Brittany Spencer / CBC)

Matthew Pauptit has been installing and servicing pools for over a decade and started his own company last year. He said he received referrals from other companies that can’t book customers for installations while managing bookings for his own customers.

He said it was difficult to find supplies last year and he anticipates it will be even more difficult in the coming year.

“It was a struggle to get pools, get supplies, and I think the big thing this year is liners. Customers buy pools fast, pools sell fast through local businesses, my business, online businesses,” he said .

“Pools will be limited, hard to come by.”

His advice to anyone considering a pool? Do your research, call now and be ready to wait.

In Charlottetown, any pool that is not inflatable requires planning permission, and a pool must be completely surrounded by a fence or structure that is at least two meters high.

City officials say the number of pool permits issued during the pandemic has increased from previous years. 16 pool permits were issued in 2020 – the highest since at least 2010. Thirteen permits were issued in 2019 and five in 2018.

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