I have been attending RV shows for as long as I can remember, starting with my dad dragging my three brothers and me to RV and boat shows in the Midwest in the late 1960s. My dad never bought an RV or boat unit after my brothers and I left home. I think he just liked to buy us ice cream and rummage through new RVs.
Fast forward 30+ years and I have attended more shows than I can count, including when I worked at Winnebago and we displayed at 30 shows in one year alone!
The Hershey RV Show (America’s Largest RV Show®), which just wrapped up with its second-largest crowd ever (more than 61,000 attended), claims to be the biggest RV show in the country. I attended the show many years ago when it was held in Harrisburg but had not, until last week, attended since it moved to Hershey. Typically, the show has fallen on the same weekend as the North Carolina RV Dealers Association Charlotte Show, where I speak. That show was postponed this year after one of its largest dealer organizations pulled out because of COVID concerns. In fact, most shows across the country have been postponed – except for Hershey.
A huge reason that many shows have been canceled or postponed is because of a lack of inventory. With sales at a record pace and supply issues, dealers just don’t have enough inventory to display at an RV show. They can’t even keep their own sales lots full!
At the NCRVDA Show in Raleigh a few weeks ago, several seminar attendees told me they had ordered units from dealers and had already waited several months with no idea when their unit would be delivered from the factory. One woman I spoke with said she took her unit in to be worked on under warranty and the dealer offered to buy it for $20,000 more than she paid for it a year ago. Thor and Winnebago announced recently they had completely sold out for the 2021 model year.
So how come there were so many RVs at the Hershey show?
How were the Hershey Show promoters, the Pennsylvania RV and Campground Association (PRVCA), able to get manufacturers to bring more than 1,200 RVs to this year’s event? I asked several of my manufacturer contacts and they said, off the record, that they had been stockpiling units for several months. And some of the dealers said the same thing.
Stockpiling? How can they do that?
My guess is the manufacturers deliberately held back customer orders to ensure they had product to display at the show. In doing so, the manufacturers and dealers chose to roll the dice thinking the odds were better filling the sales pipeline with new orders than ship them to customers waiting for their units to arrive. One attendee told me he put down a huge deposit on an RV, had waited 4 months for it already, and was told there have been two price increases due to supply chain issues – and he still does not have a delivery date! Sounds like Vegas odds to me – jeopardize (or sacrifice) one sale to get several more at the show for each unit displayed.
Finally, as I walked the show on Wednesday and the breeze drifted over the rigs, I could distinctively smell the aroma of, I believe, a s’more or something. I asked one of the security guards and he said that when the wind comes from the north over the Hershey plant, sales of the Hershey bars at the event doubles! I can believe that.
Read more from Dave here.
Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.)
HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?
Ask it here. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response.