Children jump into an inflatable pool in Los Angeles, Friday, July 17, 2020. Inflatable pools are driving a deluge of toy sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers look to reclaim a few gallons of summer and enhance at-home leisure for their children, their pets and their feet. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jae C. Hong

Inflatable pools lead wave of toy sales as parents, kids reclaim slice of summer

Toys ‘R’ Us found itself swamped with calls for inflatable pools as sales climbed 70 per cent year

Inflatable pools are driving a deluge of toy sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers try to enhance at-home leisure for their children, their pets and their feet.

Market research firm NPD Canada says inflatable pool sales rose 107 per cent year over year between April and June, when widespread lockdowns were in effect.

The pools, like other items seeing a surge such as puzzles and board games, offer a communal activity for families — dogs included — and a refreshing distraction for kids stuck at home, said NPD analyst Joan Ramsay.

“With the parks being closed, parents were looking for ways to provide some entertainment for their children at home outside,” Ramsay said, noting prolonged school shutdowns increased the need for other activities.

“It’s things that you can do as a group … It wouldn’t surprise me if adults — if not fully sitting in the pool — are at least sticking their feet in to cool off,” she said.

“A fellow I work with said that they bought a bigger inflatable pool so he and his wife can fit in it with their one-year-old.”

Inflatable pools, which typically cost between $100 and $600, were among a flood of larger online purchases that included play sets and trampolines, while sales of smaller toys dropped off slightly in April and May, according to NPD.

“You might not go online to buy one little doll but you might if you’re buying a bigger purchase,” Ramsay said. “You don’t have the impulse purchases with your child pulling at your pant leg when you’re at the store either,” during widespread brick-and-mortar store closures.

Over the past three months, pools — the No. 1 toy item in May — were surpassed only by puzzles, with sales of jigsaws of 1,000 pieces or more growing 150 per cent compared with the same period last year as homebound consumers flocked to the activity.

READ MORE: B.C. launches free day-use passes for 6 provincial parks amid COVID-19 surge

Total toy sales rose 16 per cent last quarter, NPD said. Video games and consoles — aimed at adults and children — enjoyed a sustained sales boost of 57 per cent, yielding record numbers.

The popularity of toys and entertainment items fits into a broader trend toward comfort and convenience in the home.

“The bread-maker phenomenon is well documented. And if you’re not going to Starbucks every morning, you can splurge for a better coffee maker,” Ramsay said. “Or it’s getting a computer monitor so you’re not squinting at a laptop.”

Recreational goods have also benefited, with Canadian Tire seeing “unprecedented” demand.

“Bicycles, backyard fun products (including inflatable and steel-frame pools and pool accessories) and boredom busters such as trampolines and basketball nets are a few examples,” said spokeswoman Cathy Kurzbock.

At Home Depot, the “Llamacorn” pool float — a pink, inflatable llama with sunglasses and a colourful forehead horn — proved extremely popular. Sturdier above-ground pools and related accessories have also enjoyed a major sales boost, the company said.

Toys ‘R’ Us found itself swamped with calls for inflatable pools as sales climbed 70 per cent year over year alongside more purchases of balloons and backyard waterslides.

Books and building toys saw more demand earlier in the pandemic, Toys ‘R’ Us spokeswoman Paige Exell said in an email. Now families are trying to reclaim a few gallons of summer from the pandemic.

“The recent heat wave is driving a big portion of demand, but with kids at home and no camps, and the playgrounds and splash pads closed (in some areas), parents are looking for anything to keep their kids busy — and cool,” she said.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusRetail

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire damages Harrop nursery

The cause of the blaze is under investigation

LETTER: Time to re-purpose airstrip

From reader John Bowden

Nelson Innovation Centre to host pitch competition

Deadline to apply for the first of three events is Sept. 24

School bus registration now open in SD8

Registration deadline is Sept. 4

BUSINESS BUZZ: COVID and cash, ATCO’s Weatherford heads Selkirk board, and more

Darren Davidson brings us the latest goings-on in the local business world

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read