2015: A Chance To Exhale

Scott Webb Headshot

Scott WebbWith fireworks and a midnight kiss, 2015 dawns and we contemplate the gift of another year. Well, at least the gift of another minute — life offers no guarantees. Perhaps the closest thing to a sure bet here on earth is my amazingly accurate annual economic prediction.

For several years running I’ve been dead right in forecasting a turtle’s pace for the economy, and it has delivered just that — slow, plodding, painstaking growth. At times the turtle has appeared to stop momentarily, even shift its weight backwards, only to raise another foot and proceed forward again.

This year, the oracle is more optimistic. There’s clear evidence of improvement in four important aspects of the economy — job growth, consumer debt, stock values and housing prices.

All of these factors make our customers feel more secure, and encourage spending on spas and even pools. They all come with caveats, however. For instance, while the stock market reached all time highs in 2014, many believe that only assures us a thumping correction is on the way. And job growth, while steady, has been concentrated in part time and low-paying work.

But as jobs become more plentiful, wages will start to increase — and stagnant wages have been perhaps the biggest drag on this economy as it tries to pull itself together.

Other positive signs abound. The Fed has shut down its money presses, as it feels they are no longer necessary to support the economy, and the discussion of raising interest rates has begun. That tells you something.

So for the first time, this year I think we’ll see enough growth in pool and spa retail and construction to actually make somebody smile, not just nod and shrug. For those who have been in survival mode, holding their breath, waiting for true spring in this industry, I think this year will bring a chance to exhale. 

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