Road Warrior Greg Brown discusses why strong sales coming into the busy season may result in a watershed year for the RV industry.
As the world economy continues to struggle through a post-COVID landscape, every industry is gearing up for major change. While the travel industry is no exception, the RV segment may be particularly well-positioned to bounce back.
The State of the Industry
The wholesale RV shipping numbers provided by the RVIA website show that sales were up early in 2020 compared to 2019 numbers, even before COVID-19 cases began increasing exponentially in the U.S. By March and April 2020, the dramatic effect of the pandemic on RV sales was clear from the rising number of units being shipped to dealers. Markets in states that have deemed RV sales essential-have stayed busy through April and May.
Now the buzz within the RV industry is extremely positive. The dealers that AAI works with are almost universally echoing that sentiment in markets across the country. Even in the most stringent locked-down states like New York, dealers are seeing a major increase in sales as states slowly start to ease restrictions.
Pent-Up Consumer Demand
With summer in full swing, AAI anticipates a lot of pent-up demand as the industry enters into what is typically known as “the busy season”. As states start the process of reopening, the RV industry may bounce back just in time for people to buy. To meet this demand, dealerships are pivoting and implementing some creative strategies, including virtual touring to close sales, digital learning sessions with the dealer, and home delivery for RVs.
After 9/11, many Americans were reluctant to travel overseas and instead turned their attention to exploring the U.S.. Now, there is a strong possibility that people will follow the same trend as RVs and motorcycles sales increase in order to travel closer to home. Especially considering the lingering safety concerns of traveling by cruise ship or airplane, the opportunity to travel via RVs and motorcycles (which are great for social distancing) is particularly enticing for many Americans. With people vacationing close to home and staying away from crowded areas and beaches, there will likely be a peak in the RV travel industry.
Once people start to get a taste for the RV and camping lifestyle, they often get hooked, as it allows them to have more control over their vacation and adventures. It truly is a wonderful way to travel and see the country.
While forecasting seems like a fool’s errand with so many lingering unknowns, sales trends suggest that the remainder of the year will be good for the industry.
Moreover, in the long-term, the RV industry is seeing major growth within the millennial generation. This will likely have a significant impact on the industry as these younger generations shop differently and demand innovative amenities. This has also had a positive effect on the products themselves, with dealers looking into technology-driven forms of marketing and sales. Additionally, in 2025 there will be 15% more people between the ages of 55 and 74 in this country then there were in 2015, according to the RVIA website. This is a major demographic within the RV industry and will likely result in an increase in sales.
With strong sales nationwide and a focus on innovation and development, the future is bright for the RV industry.