The economic recession of the late 2000s hit nearly every sector of retail business. As families started to reign in their spending on necessary expenses, luxury items took an even larger hit. Commercial facilities saw funding dwindle and new pool construction projects were put on hold indefinitely or canceled outright.
When the recession eventually broke, many turned back to their suspended pool projects. Though the numbers haven’t necessarily reached pre-recession levels, there’s evidence that, as the country recovers, so do pool construction projects.
According to Aquatics International, the driving force behind the renewed interest in pool construction is located in the western and southern parts of the U.S. Jeff Robinson, sales manager at Salt Lake City’s Dolphin Pools and Spas, told AI that his business is finally seeing its sales numbers tick up after a long lull.
“I’ve had three new commercial leads in the past three days,” Robinson said. “Clients seem increasingly willing to spend some of the money they’ve been sitting on for the past few years. Their confidence is definitely up.”
Across the Southwest, AI reported that the annual growth rate of pool construction projects sits in the 15 to 20 percent range. Some companies have even reported figures well into the mid-20 percent window.
While a certain percentage of all prospective sales leads will fall through, Robinson believed that the majority of these clients have sincere intentions to follow through with construction projects.
“Over the past few years, everybody seemed to have developed this philosophy that they had to keep their hands in their pockets,” Robinson told AI. “But lately, clients are becoming more comfortable with the idea of spending the cash they’ve been sitting on.”
Looking at the numbers
According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, California is the most popular state for new pool construction projects. As of 2013, the Golden State boasted more than 45,000 commercial facilities, almost twice that of Florida, the next highest with almost 28,000 pools. After that came Texas with 20,000 commercial pools, New York with 16,000 and Arizona with just over 10,000.
The APSP estimated that there are currently more than 309,000 commercial facilities across the U.S., and 2012 saw more than 3,000 of these units installed. This represents a 36 percent decrease in the number of new pools compared to 2011, but coming out of the recession will take time. Nearly every type of pool – inground, aboveground and even hot tubs – saw a decrease in construction rates, though not as high as that of past years.
The APSP also provided national statistics, which may not give an accurate picture of the growth rate of commercial pool construction in certain areas of the country. For example, Manatee County in Florida issued 984 permits to pool construction companies in 2013 – the highest reported number over the past five years.