Post-COVID, Will More People Be Sheltering At Home?

1 Zd 620 Aq Feat

The days leading up to the start of the pandemic almost feel like they were part of another lifetime. Public places were packed, social distancing was unheard of and stores still had a regular supply of toilet paper in stock.

And then, in March, the whole world changed.

Now, in June, the worst of the storm is likely behind us, and the industry is beginning to focus on what will come after the shutdown. With stay-at-home regulations lifted, but the virus still at large, there’s no question the social distance mindset will remain. For the time being, it has become a way of life.

For months now, air travel vacations have been either reconsidered, postponed or eliminated, as have many other types of entertainment that involve public space, from sports to concerts. For leisure time diversions, the only venue that remains viable and reliable is the home.

Families across the northern hemisphere are searching for residential options to keep everyone active and occupied, and that presents an opportunity. Matt Gohlke of Gohlke Pools in Denton, Texas is one of many who has started to think about what this home-based lifestyle will mean for businesses in our sector.

“I believe that the pool and spa industry, along with any other home improvement industry, is in for a fairly significant increase in business,” says Gohlke. “While quarantining, homeowners all around the world are realizing the things in their house that they want or need to upgrade, which in turn will help us in all four departments: retail, service, renovation and new pool construction.”

For many families, this investment in a pool or hot tub will be for good reason. Throughout the pandemic, hot tubs acted as reminders of how just a twenty-minute soak each day can boost the immune system and relieve the considerable stress of our altered circumstances. And the tremendous importance of physical movement, exercise and relaxing social space afforded by a backyard pool was driven home to millions of owners.

In the face of isolation, pool and spa owners had a sense of freedom right in their own backyard — a virus-free sanctuary for their families and close friends. These people felt a fresh and powerful appreciation for home-based recreational water.

At the same time, people who rely on health clubs and commercial venues for access to these products — with that access denied — also suddenly discovered their true value. There are literally millions of people that fall into that demographic: people who have the means to afford our industry’s products, who just last month realized through losing them how much they add to our lives.

These are some of the economic force vectors that are moving through the economy as we enter into the post-initial-crisis period. Whether they will produce a boost in sales of pools and spas depends on the market reaction, says Dan Lenz, vice president of All Seasons Pools & Spas in Orland Park, Ill.

“If people think, ‘I’m going to stick around the house with my family and invest in my home,’ then we can see our industry rebound from this sooner rather than later,” he says.


Though the impact of the virus has not created an easy journey, it has already revealed the extraordinary ability for businesses to adjust to a crisis, especially in the overnight transition to remote, home-based work. According to the U.S. Census, before the shutdown, about 5% of the workforce was homebased. Overnight, that figure grew exponentially, as employees found ways to conduct business and contribute from their living rooms via computer.

And the pool and spa industry has been equally quick to adapt, providing chemicals and pool support products to homeowners despite a generalized shutdown on conventional retail.

“Every day that we can go out and create a healthy industry is truly important at this time,” says Rich Garbee, vice president of sales and marketing at GLI Pool Products, “as well as our capabilities as an industry to give back and ensure that we’re safely and effectively taking care of the pool base that is out there.”

Indeed, a crisis that has been a question of resilience has also been a test of strength, comradery and leadership. The pandemic has brought out the best in many pool and spa companies. In the midst of equipment shortages, several businesses have shifted from their normal operations to supplying the nation with essentials, from masks to sanitizer.

As the industry emerges from the crisis in the midst of a general economy in flux, with some 20-30 million workers idled, the grit and creativity of its companies will be put to the test.

“We’ll find in a handful of months that this can make us all stronger as businesses, and even stronger as people,” says Lenz.

As the world transitions back into a normal routine, everyone in the industry will play a part in the progress. In order to take advantage of the opportunity fate has provided, it will be important to remind consumers of what they have just learned: The home is the only space we control, and it will fill a larger role in a world that just learned the dangers of a global pandemic.

Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide