Sun Fails To Shine In Summer-Less Benelux

These are stressful times for companies in the BenElux area that ironically are largely dealing in stress-relieving products, such as pools and spas. Of course, the economic climate is an important negative factor, but an even more important role is played by the general sense of doom that paralyses consumers. People tend to postpone the buying of valuable, expensive goods in times of economic depression; cutting back on obtaining luxury goods that increase the joie de vivre but are not strictly a necessity. Spas and pools belong to that category. Although, in general, the leisure market is not doing well in the Benelux region, there are some positive developments. In the first place, the solid companies that are official distributors or dealer of well-known brands, tend to fair better, because insecure consumers stick to favourite, trustworthy companies and brands. So the market may be declining in total but the companies that suffer most, are the ‘brandless’ spa and pool shops. You might say the crisis is restructuring the market and that will help the good companies in the long run. Another positive development, at least in the Benelux, is the rising desire for home investment. The feeling that you can spend each euro only once causes a rise in investments connected with the private house; pools and spas do profit from this trend, although not so much as to compensate for the loss of sales in general. A third trend is the increase of investments by large holiday companies such as Landal Green Parks in the development of new recreational facilities. This means existing parks are refurbished and new ones are developed, always including leisure facilities such as spas, pools and saunas. These investments offer good possibilities for importers and distributors to create new sales. But these minor positive trends are no match for a combination of financial trouble and a serious lack of sunshine. In the Benelux region, a good spring and a sunny summer are the most important sales boosters. The years, 2011 and 2012 will go down in history as ‘summer-less’ years. A lot of retail companies are discovering that the sun is a vital marketing instrument, but one even they cannot control.

Bart Bosman
Tel. 0031 (0)342 427 042