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First Time RV Buyers Driving a Booming Market for RVs

Demand for new and used recreational vehicles is being driven by first time RV buyers across the country. Recreational vehicle parks are reporting a dramatic increase in stays starting in May of 2020. RV dealers struggle to keep popular models in stock. What is driving this sudden surge of interest? As with so much these days, the answer is related to COVID-19. The pandemic is pushing the increases in RV demand in two ways.

First Time RV Buyers Seek Freedom with Safety

After months of lock-downs caused by COVID-19 government restrictions, people are eager to escape and enjoy a real vacation. Whether they seek an adventure of discovery or are heading for someplace relaxing, more people are choosing RV travel. A vacation in an RV means you can avoid crowds in airports, train stations and restaurants. You also don’t have to risk staying in a hotel. Your mode of travel and your place to stay are one and the same. As a vacation from quarantine and a way to cut risk, travel by RV in a “home away from home” is a great option.

Front Line Workers Quarantine in RVs

The other RV demand driver is people who use RVs to quarantine at home. These first time RV buyers park in the driveway and then rarely leave home. Front line workers like doctors, nurses, first responders and retail personnel have a higher exposure to the public, and thus are at greater risk for contracting the disease. Workers don’t want to risk infecting their families, yet might not have enough room or a suitable home layout to stay away from loved ones. An RV parked in the driveway is a “home at home” option.

Demand Is High

RV retailers are reporting sales are up in the double digits vs. a year ago. Monika Geraci, a spokesperson for the RV Industry Association said the growth in demand was from “a lot of people who had never considered RV-ing now are looking for a way to get out and travel.” Add at-risk workers quarantining from family, and you have tremendous growth in units sold. Demand is not equal for all RVs, however. First time buyers are attracted to smaller, cheaper, towable RVs. Sales for such units are up over 35% compared to a year ago.

Supply Is Tight

The same forces pumping demand have had a hand in limiting supply. When the pandemic first hit, many manufactures shut down production for weeks, even months. Suppliers of raw materials needed for the manufacture of RVs were similarly hit with plant closures, creating a supply chain strain that goes from retail showroom clear back to materials sources. In fact, the industry is having a hard time keeping up with demand. Dealers have largely sold out their inventory, but filling their orders for new vehicles has been slow. Manufacturers are running full tilt, but waiting lists for popular models are long. Retailers have little incentive to negotiate on price. Some able to charge a premium over list price.

Price Trends for RVs

With demand high, supply low, and new RV buyers lining up for waiting lists, prices are high. Observers in the industry, however, don’t expect this situation to be the new normal. Many first time RV buyers are not in it for the long haul. When the danger of COVID-19 is over, they may not want to keep the vehicle parked in the driveway. Air travel will likely bounce back to some degree, making traditional vacations popular again. Experts expect to see a good supply of used RVs to hit the market over the next year or two. If you want a great deal on an RV, it may be worth waiting to be a low mileage, lightly used vehicle in an oversupplied, low price market.