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State of the Industry 2015

The economy, demographics, and climate

According to economists, Canadians are still feeling the effects the 2008-09 recession, which has been compounded by weak full-time employment opportunities. Additionally, the economy showed no drastic signs of improvement or decline, thus the industry’s targeted demographic—gen-Xers (aged 35 to 49)—are holding onto their money. It should also be noted this generation is smaller (in terms of total population) than the baby boom generation, which would have been active during the ’80s when pool building permit registrations were at their highest. According to Statistics Canada, as of September last year, the baby boomer comprises approximately 26 per cent of Canada’s total population, while gen-Xers represent 20 per cent. The bright side is, generation Y (aged 15 to 34), also known as the millennials, is next in line for the industry’s products, and they currently account for 27 per cent of the nation’s population. This represents more than 2.3 million people over the previous generation and is even larger than the boomers. The same can be said for the U.S. population.

Generation Y is considered to be the most diverse and tech-savvy in Canada’s history. As such, pool and spa/hot tub companies will need to focus more on digital marketing strategies as this generation, since childhood, is quite familiar with the Internet, mobile technology, and the use of social media. Further, this generation will make up roughly three-quarters of the work force by 2028 and the oldest millennials, still quite young at just 47, will be entering leadership positions in corporate Canada in large numbers.

Despite this, the climate will always have a huge role in the success or disappointment of any one pool season. In looking at the 2014 season for example, Environment Canada recorded the five months between November and March, from Windsor, Ont., to Quebec City, to be the coldest since it started keeping records in 1948. When spring/summer finally arrived, most of Canada recorded warmer than average temperatures, making it the sixth warmest on record. In fact, each of Atlantic Canada, Northern Prairies, B.C. southern interior, western Northwest Territories, and the Pacific Coast had the top-10 warmest summers. On the other hand, the most populated regions of the country, Ontario and Quebec, where most pool building permits are typically recorded, experienced summer weather below seasonal averages.

“We suffered through the 2014 season along with many others,” said Mermaid Pools and Hot Tubs managing partner, Dave McNaughton. “It was a slow start after a very long winter, with ground conditions that delayed our traditional start dates. The ground was too wet to bring in heavy equipment. Fall came early and was too wet as well. This burned valuable and irreplaceable time at the end of the year.

“Based on advanced sales for 2015 and sales from January and February, there is reason for optimism this year. If Mother Nature co-operates that is.”

Top five major urban centres with increased building permit registration in 2014

Region 2013 2014 (+) Change
Saguenay 45 84 39
Vancouver 129 161 32
Windsor 96 105 9
Halifax 32 38 6
Edmonton 25 31 6


Top five major urban centres with decreased building permit registration in 2014

Region 2013 2014 (-) Change
Montreal 4546 3763 783
Toronto 458 228 230
Hamilton 436 283 153
Quebec 542 447 95
London 205 153 52
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