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

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Inflatable pools are driving a deluge of toy sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers try to reclaim summer by enhancing 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 lockdowns were in effect across the country.

Analyst Joan Ramsay says 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.

NPD found 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 as in-person impulse buys became unavailable during store shutdowns.

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 year over year as homebound consumers flocked to the activity.

Total toy sales rose 16 per cent, while video games enjoyed a sustained sales boost of 57 per cent.