As temperatures and coronavirus cases have surged this summer, one corner of the area economy is getting a boost from their convergence.
The retreat home to ride out the viral storm has hurt bars, restaurants and other spots for summer fun. But it's been a boon to pool, spa and air conditioner businesses -- or anything else having to do with home comfort.
People want to be comfortable and with this weekend's "feels like" temperatures again rising into the 90s or even 100s, comfort may not be in the great outdoors.
"Everyone is stuck at home," said Mary Laudon, a retail specialist of Waterfront Pool & Spa in Rochester. "But they want to be outside and they want to be comfortable. So the first thought is a pool."
That this year's summer weather might be hotter than last year's doesn't explain the dramatic jump: Sales and bidding are up by almost a 100 percent from last year, Laudon said. Industrywide, business is said to be up 50 percent, while supplies are down by the same amount.
Like other businesses, COVID-19 has clogged and slowed the supply chain for pool companies, causing shortages of chemicals, pool accessories like vacuums and other materials. That divergence between robust business and hard-to-find supplies has lengthened lead times. In other words, don't order a pool today and think you'll be floating in cool water tomorrow.
"At the beginning, it was a huge amount of calls that we were getting about above-ground pools," Laudon said. "But we couldn't even really give people dates. You could order one, but we didn't know when you would get it."
An in-ground pool can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000, she said. And typically when the order is placed, Waterfront Pool tries to deliver the materials within a week or so. Now the wait time is six to eight weeks, and "we still might not see them in that time," she said.
Many infectious disease experts had theorized that the summer heat might burn up the coronavirus as has happened with other pandemics. That didn't happen. Instead, as states opened up their economies this summer, the virus has raced through populations.
Craig Brogan, owner of Brogan Heating & Air Conditioning in Rochester, calls business "sporadic," but sales in one area have been hot: mini-split air-conditioning systems. Mini-splits are ductless heating and cool systems that allow the owner to control the temperature in individual rooms.
"People are sick and tired being caught in this heat and humidity," said Brogan.
Brogan said the coronavirus may account for sluggishness in one area of the business. Homeowners are less inclined to allow repair people in their homes.
"Business might even be a little less, because people are afraid to let you in their homes," he said. "Everybody is so paranoid of the virus."