Okanagan hot tub sellers see huge upswing in sales | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan hot tub sellers see huge upswing in sales

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Premium Pool and Spa

Anyone wanting to spend this winter soaking in a new hot tub better be prepared to wait because stores across the Okanagan are reporting a record year for sales.

The novel coronavirus pandemic may have started with a rush for toilet paper which soon morphed into boomings sales on everything from bicycles and boats to RVs and swimming pools. And now hot tubs are the latest hot commodity which has seen a huge increase in sales since the pandemic.

Whereas fall would ordinarily be the start of one of the busiest times of year to purchase a hot tub, several stores in the Okanagan report that demand started early this year and is already outstripping the supply.

"That $10,000 family vacation turned into a hot tub for the backyard," Mike Toponce, a senior sales rep at Vernon's Premium Pool and Spa told iNFOnews.ca. "We're been ordering truckloads and they've been selling before they even arrive."

Toponce said fall and spring are usually the busiest times of the year for hot tub sales, but the pandemic changed all that. This time last year, if a model wasn't in stock and needed to be ordered, a customer would wait seven to eight weeks before their new tub arrived in their yard. For some models right now, customers won't be getting their new hot tubs until March next year.

READ MORE: Some parts of Kelowna's economy are still doing very well despite pandemic

Toponce is confident he can still find customers hot tubs without waiting five months but says the upswing in sales combined with manufacturing issues has made the tubs a hot commodity.

Many hot tub factories shut down in March and April and then reopened with new COVID-19 protocols and far fewer employees which slowed down production.

"But once May rolled around everything came back with a vengeance," Toponce said.

As the majority of the Okanagan's snowbirds are not heading south this winter, Toponce says he has seen a slight uptick in that clientele.

READ MORE: Okanagan florists busy during pandemic, some busier than ever

Vern Nelson, manager of Arctic Spas Kelowna says this season has been the busiest he's ever encountered.

"It's primarily driven by folks who are coming to terms with not travelling," Nelson said. "A lot of snowbirds... are not going to do their usual routine and they're trying to make preparations to get through our winter."

Nelson said because he only sells the brand Arctic Spas, which are manufactured in Alberta, he hasn't had to deal with the border issues models produced outside of Canada would have brought. However, the Alberta company has had issues with raw materials.

The acrylic material used to produce hot tubs is made in a couple of large facilities in the U.S. The same facilities that also produce plexiglass for PPE.

"The way things are going that's not changing anytime soon," he said.

So while the manufacturer estimated a 300 per cent increase in business, that causes unexpected demand on raw materials, and issues that ultimately trickle down to the showroom floor.

Nelson says he still has hot tubs to sell, but some models won't be available until well into next year.

"It's like having the biggest bumper crop of your life, but you can't harvest it," he said. "It's just a weird feeling."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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