Swimming pool supply, installation costs spike as summer begins | TribLIVE.com

2022-09-17 12:34:06 By : Mr. shuxiang chen

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Justin Rushin, who has been involved in the swimming pool industry for 20 years, said he has never seen prices spike like they have in the past year.

“There’s been periods of inflation, little bounds of inflation, but nothing like this,” said Rushin, who co-owns Cheswick Pools and Patios with his wife, Debbie.

As with most consumer goods — including gas and groceries — the price of pool supplies has skyrocketed over the past year while demand remains high.

In the pool industry, everything from raw materials — such as aluminum, which increased 35% in the past year — to PVC pipe — which rose 4% — has been impacted, according to Aranca, a global research analytics firm.

Chlorine saw one of the biggest spikes, increasing by 81%.

“The price increases have been the most horrible thing ever,” said Bruce Ankney, manager of King Cole Pools & Spas in North Huntingdon.

Sabeena Hickman — president and CEO of Virginia-based Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, which represents manufacturers, designers, distributors, suppliers, installers and retailers — said there are several factors contributing to higher prices, including supply chain issues felt across several industries and increased demand directly related to the covid-19 pandemic.

“Demand continues to be high, especially right now as the summer pool season has just begun, and partially because of the holdover from orders/contracts placed last year that had longer lead times,” Hickman wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review.

Now, local businesses and residents are grappling with continually rising prices as summer begins.

Jennie Williams, 56, of North Huntingdon said she was surprised by the cost of pool chemicals while shopping at King Cole Pools this week.

So far, she has spent $500 on chemicals. That cost typically hovers around $200.

“I just feel like that’s your summertime entertainment,” Williams said of her pool. “I have grandkids, so you’ve got to open it. You spend so much money to get a pool, and of course you have to open it and you have to buy the chemicals. I’ve been having problems with my pool since I opened it, so I’ve spent a lot of money on chemicals this year.”

Ankney said the cost of chemicals has doubled since last year.

He noted that chlorine tablets sold for $70 for 25 pounds last year. This year, that same amount costs $159.

Supply chain issues specifically related to chlorine have been exacerbated by chemical fires that broke out at manufacturing plants over the past two years.

In August 2020, a fire caused by Hurricane Laura started at a Louisiana plant, which is responsible for 40% of the country’s chlorine tablet supply. Another fire was reported in January at a New Jersey plant, leading to the loss of 100,000 pounds of chlorine tablets.

Despite those issues, chlorine is available at King Cole Pools, said Ankney, who preordered chemicals in August for this season.

He noted other supplies, such as solar covers, are running low.

“Basically, my solar covers are empty,” Ankney said. “Everything else I’m pretty well stocked. I ordered a bunch of stuff last year … just so it’d be in in time for me to have this year. So a lot of this is just in my back stock.”

At Hall’s Pools, Spas and Fireplaces in Lower Burrell, manager Travis Donaldson said the store has had to offer different brands of chemicals to keep the shelves stocked.

Liners for above-ground pools also have been hard to come by.

“We can’t get more. So if your liner rips midway through the summer, you’ve got to hope you can patch it, or you’re in trouble. Because you’re not going to find anything unless someone has it,” he said. “Things are just not coming in like they should. All in all, it’s not too terrible, but we can’t get our normal stuff. So we’re getting different brands just to kind of fill the orders.”

At Cheswick Pools and Patios, Rushin said the cost of some products has risen between 50% to 100% over the past 18 months.

He said the situation continually has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

“We stocked up more on things because of the longer lead times on things,” he said, noting that the store has chlorine. “It’s taken much longer to get equipment pieces. We stocked up early in 2021. … Normally, it takes a few weeks to get something. Now, it takes six to 12 months. It’s more challenging, but so far we’re doing fine.”

Despite rising prices, the demand for new pools continually has increased since the start of the pandemic.

In 2020 alone — when covid led to stay-at-home orders and shuttered businesses — the demand for pools and hot tubs grew by a record 21%, said Hickman of the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance. While data for 2021 is not yet available, high demand has seemingly continued over the past few years.

At King Cole Pools, in-ground pools are sold out through 2024.

“It’s unbelievable,” Ankney said. “Like I tell all the customers, by then I’m sure there’s going to be more increases. And they understand they’re going to have to pay a little bit more when that time comes to put their pool in.”

According to Pool Magazine, an in-ground concrete pool in 2021 ranged between $35,000 to $100,000. Fiberglass pools in that same period cost between $20,000 and $60,000. From 2019 to 2020 alone, the selling price of a new in-ground residential pool increased about 20%, according to research firm Pkdata.

In addition to higher prices, consumers also are dealing with longer installation times.

According to Hickman, installation wait times have increased alongside demand. Hickman noted that pool buyers should anticipate waiting between six and nine months for completion because of a backlog of supplies and materials. In some areas, wait times extend to one year.

David Williams, 67, of North Huntingdon, who was shopping at King Cole Pools this week, is in the process of installing a pool at his home.

Williams, who was gifted the pool, did not let the price of sand and chemicals deter him from moving forward with the project.

“I had to prepare the ground, buy sand, level it out, buy blocks for under the posts, buy chemicals, things like that,” Williams said. “The prices haven’t really made a difference. We’ve been waiting for a pool for years. My wife has wanted one. I just retired at the end of the year, and so somebody gave us this pool. and I said, ‘OK, we’ll try it out.’ ”

Donaldson — at Hall’s Pools, Spas and Fireplaces — said officials ordered pools in October. They matched the pools with filters, ladders and liners to ensure they were ready for installation when somebody placed an order. Still, that means the store has a limited supply in stock.

“Whenever we run out of that size or run out, that’s it,” Donaldson said. “We can try to get some more, but there’s no guarantee.”

The store has pool installations booked through the end of August.

Donaldson and Ankney said, for the most part, customers have been understanding.

Rushin said it likely will take awhile for the prices to even out.

“It’s a real pain,” Ankney said. “A lot more work, that’s all.”

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan by email at mtomasic@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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