For decades, Australians have had a love affair with the backyard swimming pool but the coronavirus pandemic took the relationship to new heights.
- The demand for pools and spas has never been higher, according to the industry
- COVID-19 eliminated the sector’s largest competitor — travel
- But supply and trade shortages are limiting the sector’s growth and causing delays for customers
COVID-19 eliminated the pool and spa industry’s largest competitor — travel.
The Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia (SPASA) said there had been between a 30 to 50 per cent increase in demand for pools and spas across the country.
“The demand has never been higher,” SPASA CEO Lindsay McGrath said.
“The aspiration to improve homes and have a better quality of life, while being at home with loved ones, has been a major windfall from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
COVID-19 eliminated travel, which was the industry’s largest competitor.(Supplied: Sun City Pools)
When travel restrictions were introduced due to the pandemic, the industry saw a downturn in pool servicing, construction, and retail.
Then the boom hit businesses across the country in 2021.
Townsville pool shop office manager Tania Thomson has been busy ever since.
“People aren’t travelling. They’re spending more time at home,” she said.
“They’re putting money into their backyards and into their pools because that’s their holiday destination now.”
Townsville fibreglass pool specialist Terry Dwyer was thankful to have stock to meet demand.
“We had 15 pools when this boom hit. It’s been a blessing to have that,” he said.
“During February, we’ll have another 15 to 17 pools arrive.”
The only limits to the sector’s growth are trades and material shortages.(Supplied)
The only limitation to the sector’s growth is delays caused by trades and supply shortages.
“It would be even higher if we could supply enough product, have enough applications approved, or tradespeople available,” Mr McGrath said.
SPASA said it was common for people to wait up to a year for a pool or spa installation across the country.
Master Builders North Queensland regional manager Emma Peters said some businesses believed waiting times were even longer.
“I was talking to a pool builder just earlier this week and I asked if I wanted to install the pool, how long would I need to wait,” Ms Peters said.
“You might be lucky to get one by Christmas next year — that is how busy some businesses are.”
Townsville pool supplier Terry Dwyer has managed to keep up with demand.(ABC North Qld: Chloe Chomicki)
As concrete and steel prices rise, some businesses are choosing to limit their forward bookings.
“We are fully booked for pre-Christmas construction now,” Ms Thomson said.
“We don’t look at booking things six to 12 months in advance because we just don’t know what the prices are going to be.”
There is also uncertainty about ordering fibreglass pools with businesses waiting up to 12 weeks for stock to arrive.
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To help meet the demand, the industry is in search of skilled and unskilled labour across the board.
“We’re desperate for people who are manufacturing fibreglass pools, for concrete sprayers, steel fixers, from surveying and excavation, all the way through to hydraulics and people servicing the pools,” Mr McGrath said.
Despite limitations to what businesses can deliver, the industry is encouraging consumers to continue planning and seeking quotes for backyard pools.
“We ask consumers to be patient just as they would with any other large purchase and really consider it,” Mr McGrath said.
“We are building them and delivering them as fast as we can.”