Although the survey was aimed at the whole of the wet leisure industry, it is possible to look at each sector – pool, spa and sauna individually, although it should be noted that the majority of respondents work in more than one of these areas.
The pool sector.
In the pool sector the rating average for business conditions for 2013 was 2.64 compared to a survey average of 2.68. In terms of business size, they were within a few percent of industry norms as shown by the survey.
73% of these businesses sold spas as well and just over 40% dealt in saunas.
Most of the respondents who described their business as ‘purely commercial’ worked in the pool sector.
Not surprisingly, 75% of them said that the weather had had the biggest impact on their business in the last 12 months. They also saw the weather as one of the biggest challenges that they had to face in 2013.
And they had a few interesting things to say.
“ With the world a plane ride away, the cost of having and maintaining a pool, isn’t the must have it once was unfortunately.” “ It’s hard finding enough people who can afford a pool or think they need one in this cold, wet country.”
The spa sector.
In the spa sector the rating average for business conditions for 2013 was 2.80 compared to a survey average of 2.68. The spa businesses tended to employ slightly more people than the industry norm.
Half of the respondents in this sector sold saunas as well and they were also involved in steam and hydrotherapy. They were also very frustrated by the weather’s impact on their businesses in 2012 but had a wide range of concerns for the future including rising fuel and vehicle costs and cash flow and finance issues.
The spa sector has always felt itself particularly affected by internet competition.
“ Chinese import hot tubs that have a billion jets, TVs and stereos, for less than half price.”
“ We have only seen dedicated spa buyers, the ‘impulse buyer’ has completely disappeared.”
The sauna sector.
In the sauna sector the rating average for business conditions for 2013 was 2.69 compared to a survey average of 2.68 although this score was comprised mostly by ‘middle ground’ business expectations with no respondent expecting either an extremely good or extremely poor year ahead.
The sauna businesses were also selling steam and hydrotherapy installations. They were very heavily biased towards working in both the domestic and commercial sectors of the industry rather than focusing on one area.
Therefore, if we look at this view of the industry by market sector in comparison to last year’s survey there are a number of general trends.
In last years survey these sectors were more clearly separated. It seems that more businesses have diversified into other areas – so pool companies are selling more spas, etc – and that the challenges that they face have therefore become more universal across the whole industry.
The economic downturn obviously affects everyone equally. There has been quite a lot of anecdotal evidence over the last year that the top-end of the market has remained buoyant and it is true to say that the rating average for expected business conditions for 2013 for those operating in this area was 2.75 compared to a survey average of 2.68.
The other side of the coin is that the ‘budget’ sector is looking at 2013 with very little confidence with a rating average of 2.41.
Indeed, businesses that described most of their sales as ‘budget’ had a much harder time in 2012 than the industry average with over 75% of them reporting a difficult or merely ‘OK’ year.