By far the biggest reason it’s hard to get your hands on a hot tub right now is the huge surge in demand there’s been for home spas since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
When we went into lockdown in March 2020 here in the UK, the whole country’s summer holiday plans got put on hold or went out the window.
Then we got sunshine in April instead of showers, leaving more Brits than ever before thinking about how great it would be to have a hot tub in the back garden.
Plus, most people had cash building up in their bank accounts as the world ground to a halt and holidays started being refunded. A big ticket item like a hot tub was suddenly in reach for a lot more people.
Google Trends data shows that on the same month, searches for ‘hot tub’ in the UK reached an all-time high since Google began collecting data in 2004 – around three times higher than the same month in 2019:
Just a few months into the pandemic, hot tubs showrooms around the world had sold all their stock and snapped up the models that were ready-to-deliver from retailer’s warehouses.
A global shortage of components
This massive spike in demand created chaos for hot tub manufacturers.
First, they had to operate in Covid-secure conditions with reduced workforces, which slowed production just when demand had reached an all-time high.
On top of this, every hot tub manufacturer around the world put in huge orders for basic components like the acrylic sheets used to mould interior shells, control system electronics, water pumps, and spa jets.
A small number of manufacturers produce the basic components used by most hot tub brands, so quickly creating a supply chain bottleneck.
This made it difficult for manufacturers to get hot tubs finished and out of the factory doors on schedule – and in some cases ground production to a halt.
We’ve also created the below video to explain the issues with components as well as the other issues explained in this post:
On top of all this, overall UK imports have hit a record high due to surge of online deliveries during the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning container ports and shipping lines are massively congested.
This means hot tubs aren’t just taking a lot longer to leave the factory – they’re also being delayed once they leave it.
What does this mean if you’re looking to buy right now?
So, what does this all mean for you?
Hot tub retailers’ warehouses are still depleted, so if you bought a hot tub today you’d be waiting 12 to 24 weeks for a home spa from a manufacturer with a good supply chain and over a year for one from a struggling brand.
With that in mind, here are four tips for making sure you get the perfect hot tub to suit your needs as soon as possible:
Order sooner rather than later
Component shortages and supply lines are starting to get back to normal, but it’s safe to say showroom warehouses aren’t going to be filled to the rafters anytime soon.
Given that’s the case, the sooner you order your hot tub, the sooner it will arrive – and the less likely it is to be delayed even further by getting caught up in an avalanche of orders when showrooms do go “back to normal”.
Avoid dodgy online dealers
If you’re eager to get your hands on a hot tub, it can be tempting to overlook how suspect an online-only hot tub dealer looks if it’s promising a shorter delivery time than more established retailers.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous retailers are setting unrealistic delivery dates – and fully expecting to delay those orders – as a shady tactic to get unsuspecting customers’ cash. View our post on other hot tub mistakes to avoid for full details.
Now more than ever, it’s best to avoid buying from any home spa dealership that you can’t pull up to and speak to a member of staff in person.
A reputable retailer, like any of the WhatSpa? approved showrooms across the country, can really be worth their weight in gold in the current circumstances.
Ask about lead times
Each hot tub manufacturer has bounced back from the disruption caused by the pandemic to varying degrees of success. While some are just about up and running at full capacity again, others are still completely hamstrung by supply chain delays.
So, be sure to ask at the dealership you choose to go with which brands currently have the best lead times.
This might sway your decision on which brand to go with if you’re eager to enjoy a soak in your own home spa as soon as possible.
Wait for quality
Last but certainly not least: if you’re faced with the choice between getting your hands on a second rate spa relatively quickly or holding out for one you prefer, then we’d strongly advise you wait for quality.
A premium hot tub can last 20 years, and you don’t want to end up stuck with something that doesn’t fit your exact needs for a few decades just to get it a few months earlier.
So, be sure to stick to all the tips in our hot tub buying guide here and hold out for a home spa that ticks all the boxes for you and your family rather than rushing to get one you’ll later regret.
While it’s still difficult to find hot tubs in stock, there’s certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
As we begin to come out the other end of the coronavirus pandemic, supply chains are starting to ease up and manufacturers are getting their full workforce back into action.
It’s just a matter of time that hot tubs will be back in stock around the world – and the silver lining is that manufacturers and retailers will be better prepared if the worst comes to the worst and we’re plunged back into another global pandemic.
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I am the Editor-in-Chief at WhatSpa? Media Group and have been actively involved in the hot tub and swim spa industry for over 20 years. I fell in love with hot tubbing in 2002 and since then have dedicated my career to helping millions of hot tub buyers to make more informed choices when navigating their buying journey.