SALES OF HOT TUB SPAS UNEXPECTEDLY REBOUND, DESPITE THE RECESSION
June 28, 2011
By Betty Carter
Las Vegas, NV USA
All you see everywhere nowadays is how bad the economy
is....how bad Americans are doing...how terrible the
housing market is...and how bad most retail sales are.
While most of that is still unfortunately true, a recent
survey of hot tub spa manufactories across the USA and
Canada reveal some striking new statistics.
The sales of "portable" hot tubs (or "spas") have
started an uphill rebound, after posting three years of
steep declines as the recession took hold of the world
economy. No one is exactly sure why hot tub sales
have shown sharp increases in sales, but some point to
the fact that many Americans have drastically cut their
vacation budgets and are opting for so called "stay-cations",
where they use a portion of their vacation budget and
get a hot tub instead. Also mentioned by
many was the fact that swimming pool sales are still
showing very low sales volumes ever since 2007.
Because hot tubs can be moved relatively easily,
consumers are not afraid that their home improvement may
be lost if their house is sold or foreclosed on.
Swimming Pools, on the other hand (above ground styles
and especially inground style pools) are home
improvements that typically are left at the house,
should the consumer have to move.
Consumers Feel More Comfortable With Hot Tub
The portable nature of hot tubs plus the overall lower
cost, as compared to swimming pools, have made hot tub
spas the outdoor home improvement of choice for many
recession weary consumers. "I'm not putting one
cent into my house on anything that I cannot take with
me" says Marie Voltura of Setauket, NY. "My home
mortgage is about 80% underwater right now, and I do not
see that improving in the near future. So we
decided to get a hot tub to enjoy, knowing that we can
always take it with us if we have to bail on the house."
We found that her comments and general feelings were
repeated time and time again from homeowners all over
"We lost our home to foreclosure a year ago, and now we
are renting a much nicer and larger home for half the
money" say Gerry Feingold of Los Angeles, California.
"The house we rented did not have a pool, and we
certainly are not going to have one installed in a
rental house. That's why the hot tub made sense",
he said of his recent spa purchase. "Plus, there
were so many sales going on for hot tubs, that we were
able to get a much bigger sized model for the same price
as a smaller one we looked at last year."
Brandy Quick of
Artesian Spas, a Las Vegas based spa
manufacturer, reports that "People are shopping smarter
than ever before. Consumers are thoroughly researching
the products to ensure they are purchasing the best spa
with the most features, all the while keeping within
their budget. Over the last year, spas that retail
$6,000 and under are up significantly. It’s become a
huge piece of the market." Courtney Salas of
Spas also notes that "Our company took
the recession as an opportunity to solidify our product
lineup and dealers. As a result, many of our products
and dealers are flourishing during this difficult
Media Attention Has Helped
Widespread media coverage of shows like Jersey Shore,
The Real World Las Vegas, and
Big Brother, all featuring frequent hot tub usage by
their cast members, have also given a big boost to the
hot tub market. "If it was not a recession right
now, the hot tub market would probably be having its'
best sales year ever" reports one Las Vegas hot tub
salesman. "Even with the recession though, I can't
tell you how many people come in and say they want one
of those "Jersey Shore" hot tubs !"
"Believe it or not, that stupid "Hot Tub Time
Machine" movie created a lot of interest in hot tubs from people
who were unfamiliar with concept of personal, home hot tubs"
said a hot tub dealer in Phoenix, Arizona. "I saw the
movie (Hot Tub Time Machine) and thought that all hot tubs were
those old-style wooden ones. But the movie piqued my
interest - they seemed like a lot of fun. By the end of
the following weekend, my wife and I had bought a
and we can't say enough about it" reports Joe Buffa from Destin,
Price cutting, rebates, coupons and county fair-type sales
events held all over the country had also helped to boost 2010 sales.
The sales manager of Vita Spa
recently noted that "The retail climate is improving.....with
some areas (doing) better than others - (and) the overall feeling of desperation
has subsided and companies are again finding ways to get in front of the
consumer. Consumers are still conservative with their spending, but they are
starting to spend. County Fairs, events and home shows seem to have made a
rebound and sales volumes are exceeding the volumes of the previous year.
Inventories remain relatively low both at the vendor and dealer level, so there
is optimism for a steady and sustainable 2011 season."
another hot tub insider, reports that "The good news is that spas
are starting to make a sales rebound. We are starting to see
more footsteps in our retail stores, and those customers are
really in the market to purchase something. (Although) our
competition in the spa industry (has) decreased, we are still
competing with other major ticket items like big screen TV’s and
other recreational products. We know there is still a demand for
the relaxation, health, and social benefits that are only found
in a spa. (As) consumers start to feel more comfortable with the
economy, they will be ready to make the (kind) purchase that
will improve their lives forever...a spa."
He continues, saying that "Our
current sales trends indicate that there are (more) higher end
customers and not as many mid-line sales as we had in the past.
The higher end of our model sales are up. On the lower end
we are also starting to see more sales by people who were
previously unable to buy due to the Recession.
We are encouraged by what we are
Some Manufacturers & Dealers Are Posting Best Sales Ever
One hot tub manufacturer,
Bullfrog Spas of Utah, is actually on
track to have one of their best sales years ever! "2009
was actually our second best year on record in terms of net
profit. Sales were down a bit from 3 years ago but we were able
to tighten up our belt and focus on what customers really want.
Things are looking good for another very profitable year in
2011" says Jaden Kemp, their Director Of Sales & Marketing.
The Director of Sales for
Dimension One Spas, John Lear,
says that "We are excited. Our dealers are experiencing
dramatically better sales this year and tell us that
although customer traffic may be lighter than several
years ago, the customers that visit their showrooms are
more knowledgeable, looking for value, and are ready to
purchase. Over the last 18-24 months, the landscape of
the industry has changed radically. The dealers that are
in business today are the strongest fundamentally, have
built strong reputations for customer service, and are
using their marketing dollars more effectively than
ever. As many in the industry have reduced their
marketing budgets, our strongest dealers have become
more aggressive in their advertising and are seeing the
fruits of their efforts. These dealers are experiencing
year-over-year increases of well over 40%."John
continues, saying that "As a manufacturer, some of our best selling units are
from our higher-end lines. Although what the newspaper says about the economy
may suggest otherwise, customers are willing to pay for value and are steering
away from the cheapest option. They demand the best, but have never been more
willing to pay for it. One of our strongest dealers has sold 8 of our
highest-end units over the last two weeks alone. We are experiencing significant
increases in units and are encouraged by what we are seeing and hearing. The pie
may have shrunk, but there are fewer aggressively pursuing it."
Product Innovation Is Helping Out Sales As Well
Innovation has also helped fuel the "new" hot tub industry,
and many manufacturers are adding options like TV's, stereos,
waterfalls and IPOD hookups. One such manufacturer
has even installed refrigerated cooling devices into their tubs
in order to lure some of this "new group" of buyers.
Atera Anytemp Spas Director Of Sales & Marketing, Josh Reynolds says that
our) clients have previously owned a hot tub or pool
and know (that) exclusive features and year round fun and health
benefits are important to their family." Atera Spas
can be heated up like a regular hot tub, but can also be cooled
down, which is very helpful in warmer climates, where hot tub
water temperatures can easily match the air temperature -
sometimes reaching over 110 degrees in the Southwest or
Southeast regions of the USA. The refrigerated cooling
system helps keep the hot tub temperature within the safe range
during the real hot summers. Additionally, for folks who do not
have room for a swimming pool, these type of spas can actually
be cooled to as low as 65 degrees, to give a refreshing
pool-type experience, in the summer.
"We have been
kept very busy during this tough economic time. American
homeowners are obviously willing to invest in their family's
year round fun and health once they've learned about Atera
Spas' long term benefits. They (also) have the
opportunity to purchase direct from the factory, saving (them)
thousands of dollars", Reynolds reports.
Looking For Energy Efficient Hot Tubs Too
As the cost of energy is rising
across the United States and Canada, savvy consumers are also
looking for highly insulated hot tubs, but still want all the
fancy "bells-and-whistles" that are available today.
Clearwater Spas of Woodinville, Washington, make a line a
very high quality hot tub spas PLUS uses all the most energy
efficient components and insulations, allowing consumers to have
the best of both worlds.
Remember that "Eco-Friendly" does
not necessarily have to mean sacrifice of lack of comfort. Ron
Clearwater, Founder and CEO for Clearwater Spas reports that
"You do not have to sacrifice comfort or fun with your spa, but
you can choose an option that is more environmentally conscious
from many spa manufacturers, including our brand, Clearwater
What is so special about
eco-friendly options? From manufacturing to power use, they are
quite special. When you select the right hot tub, you can, in
fact, be helping the environment. Mr. Clearwater adds "When our
company designs and creates our hot tubs, they keep two things
in mind: your comfort and the environment. From the very
beginning, staying green is kept in mind, and the manufacturing
location for the spas is also important, as we do not produce
environmental pollution with our shell EcoSpray process". He also continues, saying that "At Clearwater
Spas our floors of the spas are created from recycled ABS, and
we even go so far as to recycle our own material waste, such as
wood and plastic."
Getting an energy
efficient hot tub is good for a number of reasons;
the hot tubs are energy efficient in a number of
different ways, they are environmentally friendly and they will also save you money in electricity.
All Clearwater tubs are insulated from floor
to cover, and the spas are made to maintain heat,
avoid pollution and allows for protection from
The insulation used is
made to buffer against cold air in order to maintain
heat so that the heater system has to work less and
will use less electricity. Getting a high quality
spa cover also helps to protect the spa water from
heat loss as well.
Mr. Clearwater also reports that "The spas
designed and manufactured by Clearwater Spas now include a new
technology called E-Smart, which guarantees that the hot tubs
are energy efficient in all ways. Designed from recycled
materials, including the best in insulation, our hot tubs will
not only offer a green alternative, they will also cost you less
money since they use much less of your energy resources."
Remember, going green does not
have to be difficult. In fact, many people assume that, to
protect the environment, they will have to make sacrifices, but
this is no longer true. You can still enjoy the comfort, therapy
and fun of a hot tub at your home while still helping to produce
a better global environment.
Mr. Clearwater continues that "All
Clearwater Spas are certified to pass the rules of the
California Energy Commission (CEC) energy standards act, which
is a strict set of rules about energy efficiency and
environmental safety. There is no sense in missing out on the
fun of a hot tub because you are worried about the environment.
In fact, when your neighbors see your hot tub installation, they
may quite possibly be green with envy!”
However, Some Companies ARe Still Having Problems
Although not all the news is so rosy for some hot tub
manufacturers. Many have gone bankrupt, gone out
of business, have been bought out by larger companies,
or have had to reorganize their business plans.
"There has certainly been a big shakeout over the past 3
years in this industry" reports one Florida spa dealer,
George Carolla. "The best and strongest brands are
the one that will survive this economic downturn."
"Some of the (previously) bigger companies, that had
undergone tremendous expansions during the first half of
the decade, have become financially unstable, and may
not make it through the year" says one hot tub industry
"I have seen some of the largest companies make the
biggest marketing mistakes over the past year - those
that even a first year college student majoring in
business wouldn't make" says Ethan Johnson of
Poolandspa.com's Marketing Department. "I mean, if
you have a huge company, with huge overhead, and you see
all of these smaller companies biting at your feet,
moving products and eating up your market share, why
would you slash your marketing budgets, and shut
down previously high performing dealerships? It
makes absolutely no sense."
"Clearly the companies that had adopted the "hunker
down" mentality about a year ago - including cutting
back on dealerships, slashing advertising dollars, and
laying off key employees - are the ones that did the worst in 2010" reports Janice Beckman, head of the
accounting department for Poolandspa.com.
"You pretty much hear the same story again and again -
the companies that are forward-thinking in this type of
economy are coming out the winners. Those that
have "hunkered-down" are the ones that are suffering,
sales wise, and are most likely the ones that will not
be around next year" she adds.
Forward-Thinkers Come Out On Top
One of those "forward-thinking" companies is
Leisure Spas of Florida. "Premium Leisure made a
concerted effort to double down and invest in key
business strategies in 2009," said Premium Leisure
President Brian Wiley. "The 2010 results speak volumes.
We engineered and launched eight brand new hot tubs that
comprise two fresh, patent-pending lineups: Leisure's
Edge and Pinnacle Plus. Because these spas boast
never-before-seen design elements and more than 30
standard features that consumers want, we are up 63
percent year over year."
"It is no secret that the spa industry is moving again
and sales are increasing. Even though this is
true, it would be better (for everyone) if the economy
as a whole was recovering at a faster pace" says one
industry executive. "Everyone wants to be at the
top of the crest when the economy fully recovers, and
all the smart ones know that NOW is the moment to take
Dan Jung of
Northern Lights Cedar Tubs in Canada echoes
those sentiments. "We have found
that diversifying our product line has helped us greatly
in this recession, our new Ofuro Hot Tubs are designed
for two people which is surprisingly something we have
found a good market for. (Also) offering wood fired and
solar heating alternatives appeal to those with a green
thumb and customers who are afraid of high operating
costs associated with gas or electric hot tubs" he says.
Speaking of Canada, many Canadian-based hot tub
manufacturers are reporting even more robust sales than
those in the USA. "Business
has been good this year, a definite improvement over
last year. The USA is still having (some) difficulty. I
still think there’s more (good news) to come in our
industry over this next year" mentions Lyndon Throness,
Beachcomber Hot Tubs'
Director Of Marketing.
Coast Spas, another popular Canadian-based spa
manufacturer reports the same upward trend. "Our
sales are actually up 19 % this year overall. This
increase could be due to our long term stable dealers.
What we do see are the results of our vanishing edge spa
line, which has given all Coast Dealers the ability to
sell the ultimate in quality and innovation. Coast Spas
continues to be different so that Coast Dealers have
continued success" says their spokesman Mike Murphy.
Swim Spa Market Also Expanding
Swim Spas are also seeing an unexpected surge in sales
this year. "We all take our health
for granted, until it's gone. Even in an economic
downturn this sentiment is not lost on our Customers,
making (Swim Spas) more compelling (than ever) for their
fitness benefits, versatility, and ease of use,
year-round", says Daniel Fraley of
Dan Ried, from
Hawkeye Spas has been having a lot of
luck this year with their new line of Swim Spas as well.
"We had increased traffic to our web
site when Poolandspa.com included our new
Barefoot Bossetti Swim Spa in the Top 10 Swim Spas list (this
year)", he said. "As
a manufacturer that sells direct to the consumer, we
have a unique opportunity to gauge the market. Over the
last several months, we have seen a tremendous
improvement in both foot traffic that comes through the
door, and traffic to our website. We feel as a whole,
consumers are back in buying mode and they are taking
advantage of market rebound incentives throughout our
continues, "We have seen exponential growth, not only in portable spa sales for
luxury and relaxation, but also in Fitness Spas and Swim Spas for health,
therapy and overall well-being.
We are looking
forward to a successful year in 2011 and expect that over the next several
years, sales will continue to improve."
Hot Tub Survey Helps Gauge Consumer Interest
To see what many
consumers were saying about hot tubs, Poolandspa.com commissioned an
online survey to find out all aspects of hot tub ownership in
today's marketplace called
What Americans Really Want In Hot Tubs.
results of the
year long survey covering
tub ownership and hot tub
shopping are now available
online. Although the survey
results were originally
geared to be shown only to
hot tub manufacturers and/or
spa dealers, Poolandspa.com
is now opening up the complete survey results
to consumers and hot tub
shoppers. They also
have include a video narrative, explaining some of the results.
"Generally, we were very surprised at the overall positive
nature of the survey results" reports Poolandspa.com's Dan Harrison, an industry
veteran of over three decades. "The quality of hot tubs has so drastically
improved over the past 10 years, that most hot tub owners have a very positive
experience, both during the shopping process and as end-users. The caliber
of the dealerships and the aftermarket support from the manufacturers has
absolutely had a lot to do with the recent up-tick in sales. Everyone in
this industry (dealers & manufacturers) are "hungry", so they go out of their
way to make sure that the consumer is happy with the tub they purchase.
This certainly was not the case when I first got into this industry 30 years ago
!" he notes.
Maybe This Is The "New Beginning"
After the World Trade Center Tragedy in
September of 2001, most industries nationwide suffered quite a
lock-up in sales. Travel and vacationing came to a crawl and a
lot of consumer spending dipped, as the fear and uncertainty of the
future loomed over everyone's heads in America. But a little
known fact to many people is that hot tub sales surged soon thereafter.
Actually, the Fall of 2001 started the tremendous growth trend that
fueled the hot tub industry, and launched it from a small facet of
the Swimming Pool Industry into an entire industry in its' own
right. 2002 through 2007 saw exponential growth in the Hot Tub
Industry, producing tens of thousands of jobs and creating a
multi-billion dollar industry segment, where before it was hardly a
blip on the radar screen.
Who knows ? Maybe 2011 will be the "New Beginning" for the
hot tub industry. When the final history of this time period is written,
this tragic economic recession may actually end up having been a good thing for
the hot tub industry. There was a painful shake-out of the weaker
companies, and the strong ones have, and will always, survive. From a
consumer's point of view, this is great news - better hot tub products from
stronger companies at better prices. And for the hot tub dealers and
manufacturers who have weathered the storm, this may be the final light at the
end of the recessionary tunnel they have endured for almost three long years.
Only time will tell.
Go To Back To The
Online Newsletter Page
Go To The Hot
Tub Spa Buyer's Guide & Manufacturer's Links
Go To The Swim
Spas & Swimming Pool Buyers Guide & Manufacturer's
Americans Really Want In Hot Tubs" - Survey Results
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