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

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

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is considered a model for care clinics going forward by the South Okanagan Division of Family Practice. (Monique Tamminga)
Primary Care Clinic funding could be a cure for South Okanagan Similkameen doctor shortage

Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is a model for future care clinics and doctor recruitment

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
EDITORIAL: Uneasy elements must be faced head-on

Electoral tensions in the United States could happen in Canada as well

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Most Read