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The 6 Most Momentous Pool, Spa Trends of 2021

The 6 Most Momentous Pool, Spa Trends of 2021
Despite everything that happened in 2021, it set in motion several key trends that will continue to affect pool and spa professionals in the year to come.

Remember how everyone couldn’t wait for 2021 to begin and finally put the pandemic year in the rearview mirror? Well, 2021 may not have ended up quite the way many hoped, but it did set in motion a number of key trends that will continue to affect pool and spa professionals in the year to come.

Here’s a look at six of the most momentous trends of the past year:

1. The evolving pandemic. From Delta to Omicron, COVID-19—and the challenges it continued to present—remained one of the thorniest issues of 2021. Vaccines blunted some of the impact of the virus and allowed some of the first in-person gatherings since lockdowns began, such as the well-attended 2021 PSP/Deck Expo. But vaccines also led to other questions around ongoing vaccine hesitancy, especially among construction workers, and whether employers should mandate vaccines. Meanwhile, the federal government-imposed vaccine mandates on companies with more than 100 workers, only to have those actions challenged repeatedly in the courts and by numerous trade associations. With a winter surge looking more and more likely, it seems all but certain these issues will drag into 2022. 

2. Supply chain challenges. Like a different kind of virus, pandemic-related shutdowns and labor shortages, left pool and spa pros sometimes scrambling for basics such as CYA and rebar. Government officials and Industry leaders blamed a raft of issues from a lack of truck drivers to an over-reliance on the just-in-time economy. But pros felt the impact with 85% naming availability or products and supplies their no. 1 concern. With inflation continuing to dog the economy, and the pandemic not letting up, expect these challenges to continue in 2022. 

3. Industry consolidation. Dozens of mergers and acquisitions within the pool and spa industry kept changing the landscape of the pool and spa industry over the past year. The mergers affected every segment of the industry including longtime pool builders and service companies. Some of the biggest players, such as Pentair, continued growing through acquisition. Meanwhile, national service companies such as National Pool Partners continued expanding into new territories through ongoing acquisitions. As the backyard continues to be a hot commodity in the new year, expect this trend to continue. 

4. Inflation and material price increases. As the government pumped about $9 trillion into the economy, an old enemy reared its head: inflation. For pool and spa pros, that has meant sometimes dramatic material price increases as much as 30%. Industry groups are sounding the alarm about inflation and material price increases. According to the Associated General Contractors of America: “An index of input prices—the prices that goods producers and service providers such as distributors and transportation firms charged for inputs for nonresidential construction—climbed by an even steeper 21.1% compared to October 2020, including a 1.3% increase since September.”

5. Emerging cyber security threats. Be warned: Construction firms are now the no. 1 target for ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a virus that takes over a computer or device until the victim pays a fee to regain access. If the fee isn’t paid the attacker destroys all the data. While this tactic had been used on larger firms in the past, it’s now being employed against smaller companies. Pool and spa firms, many of which have been forced into remote working conditions, are, particularly at risk. That’s because many of them don’t have proper cyber security protocols in place to thwart hackers. The new year may be a good time for pros to take steps like this to protect themselves—before it’s too late.

6. A banner year. The silver lining to all of these challenging trends is that many pool and spa pros have had their best year ever. Thanks to pandemic lockdowns, homeowners have gained a new appreciation of the importance of backyard living with 90% saying the backyard is more valuable than ever. And flush with cash from pandemic-related government funding, they’ve got more money than ever to spend either renovating existing spaces or creating new ones. The result is that most pool and spa pros have more business than they can handle and are able to charge a premium for their services. As the pandemic continues to drag on, expect this trend to continue into the new year—and get ready for a banner 2022!

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