I couldn't be happier to greet the New Year and shove that old one out the door. I've never been one to dwell on the past, but I'd deliver this Parthian shot to 2016 as it departs: it was marked by more foolishness than most.
Baby 2017, on the other hand, like any newborn holds promise — especially for the pool and spa industry.
More than most industries, in order to thrive, we depend on a feeling of affluence and security in the middle class. They need to be convinced that some sort of enduring prosperity is at hand. Doubt, anxiety and uncertainty in this group over the last decade slaughtered pool and spa purchases by the thousands.
Even as the economic indicators crept up over the last several years, there was still a lingering sense that the recovery was fragile and could quickly collapse. Throughout this period, timid steps by the Fed echoed this sentiment, as if to confirm homeowners' feelings of caution.
But at the dawn of 2017, there are signs of real economic vitality: Last month housing prices finally regained their pre-recession levels. U.S. GDP is up sharply at 3.2 percent. Consumer confidence, as measured by both the Conference Board and Gallup, is reaching levels not seen since 2007.
As of this writing, the Dow and S&P stand at all-time highs, their shackles broken by investors who clearly believe in the future of this economy and are willing to bet real money on it.
And best of all, the millennials we've all been waiting for are starting to arrive in numbers. Large suburban homebuilder Toll Brothers is projecting a strong 2017 due to growth in millennial buyers; Chief Executive Douglas Yearley Jr. said recently that nearly a quarter of the company's new contracts included a millennial buyer.
"With the millennial generation now entering their thirties and forming families, we are starting to benefit from the desire for home ownership from the affluent leading edge of this huge demographic wave," he said.
To see some really good years in a luxury trade like ours, the economy needs to roar a little. I think I hear something.