Amber Marin, retail manager at Premier Pools, stands in front of the Lewiston business on Thursday, where she says they are completely booked for the season. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Mainers who normally would go to the beach or take a trip to cool off during the long, hot summer are looking for alternatives in the summer of COVID-19. And record numbers are looking in their backyards for a good place to put a pool.

Pools sales are breaking records across the country, including Maine, where customers are shifting their vacation savings into “staycation” home improvements.

“The entire industry has pretty much exploded,” said Amber Marin, retail manager for Premier Pools and Spas in Lewiston.

“We can’t do any above-ground pools. We are completely sold out,” Marin said.

“It’s insane. That’s the only word I can use to describe it,” said Stephanie Turner, who works in sales and marketing for Coulthard Pools and Spas in Mexico.

“This is my 15th summer here and I don’t think I’ve ordered as much as I have (this year),” Turner said. “All of our distributors are running out of supplies. There are none left. It’s a six-week wait for a pool to even show up at our distributors.”

Sales for more expensive in-ground pool sales are up, but not as much as above-ground, which some operators said were up 300 percent.

Hot tubs are in high demand, too.

“We’re waiting six weeks with hot tubs instead of two,” Turner said.

Operators said wait times for purchase and installation of above-ground pools are now well into fall. Manufacturers and businesses in the supply chain who laid off or cut back on their workforce due to the pandemic added to the backlog.

As a result, operators said, anyone looking to take a dip in their backyard this year is probably going to have to delay the desire until 2021.

“We’re selling stuff that hasn’t even been made yet,” said Pat Paine, owner of Pat’s Hot Tubs and Pools in Oxford. “It’s the craziest year I’ve seen.”

“A lot of people are saying because they’re not going on vacation because of the pandemic, they’ve decided to finally get a pool,” she said.

The boom extends to most pool accessories, such as pumps, liners and solar covers. Shop owners are seeing smaller items such as chemicals and floats fly off the shelves as soon as they stock them.

“I’m ordering three times what I normally would and it’s gone as soon as I get it,” Paine said.

Marin said installations were booked out for the year by the end of May. That typically doesn’t happen until July or August. She normally gets 150 sales leads per month. Now, she’s getting 150 per week, mostly from online shoppers.

Many operators have been hiring and/or increasing existing employees’ hours in response to the boom. Most are still accepting applications.

“We’ve got part-time staff increased to full-time. Everyone is working extra,” Paine said.

“Extra hands are still very much needed,” Marin said.

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