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New RVers opting out of lifestyle, some selling their rigs

EDITOR’S NOTE: RVtravel.com is regularly invited to participate in nationwide conference calls with large RV dealers and others involved in the sales and servicing of RVs. We won’t be directly naming those on the call, nor the dealerships involved. While the situation is unusual, we feel the value of the candid comments and information that we can share with you outweighs the lack of the usual attribution. This time, you’ll just have to trust us that the quotes come from trusted, vetted sources.

Longtime RVers have speculated for months that many of the millions of new RVers would soon tire of their new outdoor toy and put them back up for sale. Now we’re hearing that the long-anticipated flow of slightly used RVs back to sales lots may have begun.

“I’m getting phone calls from people who want us to buy their RV back,” said one RV dealer during a recent nationwide conference call of RV dealers and others connected with the RV industry. “We don’t know how many of those calls are coming from actual newbies, and we really don’t even know how many of our recent customers are new to RVing, but I’d guess about half of our customers are new.”

Why are the new RVers giving up?

Those on the call didn’t speculate as to what may be driving some new RVers to give up on the lifestyle. They may be exhausted from the effort involved to find available campsites in popular locations. They may also be disenchanted that they can’t seem to find the bucolic, secluded camping locations that may have drawn them to purchase rigs in the first place.

“There are definitely fewer first-time buyers lately,” said one dealer on the call.

On the upside for the RV industry, dealers said they are starting to see more experienced RVers return to dealerships looking to upgrade their equipment.

“I’m getting a lot more trade-ins,” said one dealer. “The rate of customers with trade-ins a few months ago was about 13 percent. Now, about 50-60 percent of customers have a trade-in RV. We are starting to see our core customers come back. We haven’t seen that in a long time.”

Traffic is great, inventory is not

One East Coast dealer said while traffic at his dealership was “great,” his inventory of RVs on the lot was about 40 percent of what it should be at this point in the year. “The product mix is all over the board,” he said.

Even with low inventory, the dealer said sales margins on rigs that do move are good. “Consumers are still willing to pay an awful lot,” he said. “But if there is a bump in the economy, it will be a different story.”

Many in the industry lamented the fact that wait times for factory deliveries of back-ordered RVs seems to be getting longer. “The good news is that retention rates after the sale are good,” said one. “People seem to be willing to wait.”

One New England dealer said while sales volume at his dealership was down 20 percent year over year due to a lack of inventory, his margins were more than double those of a year ago. “Everyone is making more money than before,” he said. “We just can’t get inventory.”

##RVT1018b

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Bob Weinfurt
4 days ago

We bought an old motorhome seven years ago for $300, fixed a few things, and have enjoyed it with no major problems. Last year I was offered a lot more than I had into it, $5K. I asked the person why they offered so much for a 43 year old unit that wasn’t in the greatest of shape. His reply was “back then they were simple and well made, not like some of the overpriced junk that always needs something repaired/replaced. I want something we can use, not to park at a repair shop”. That’s why I kept it.

Last edited 4 days ago by Bob Weinfurt
Daycruiser
15 days ago

We’ve been RVing for almost 50 years, but since the Pandemic started we’ve not done any at all, first due to all the lock-downs, then newbie “Covid Campers” flooded the campgrounds as the only outlet for vacation or entertaining the cooped up kids. Our RV is parked for the time being, maybe in 2022 or 2023 things will right itself again when the Covid Campers figure out they can travel again at will and owning an RV is a big financial and maintenance investment for something that will sit in their driveway or storage yard. I think the novelty is already wearing off for the Covid Campers and we’ll see many more “For Sale” signs on RVs over the next 24 moths.

Thomas Kelly
17 days ago

As a retired long-time RV owner with good planning and mechanical skills, beginning with tent campers to a very large diesel pusher and now to a 2021 32 ft gas motorhome, I have not been surprised at the negative comments regarding poor quality,service, RV resort issues and fuel prices. Although my wife and I have been very happy and satisfied with our new Forest River FR 30 DS puchased from Lazydays in Oct. 2020 for price, service, features and few minor repairs in the 10,000 miles and two major and several minor trips this past year, I am surprised that few, if any, negative comments I have seen deal with, what are our recent major complaints, which are the condition of our major highways and the much larger amount of big rig truck traffic and the speed at which they are driving these days. I am a very healthy senior and an experienced RV driver and have to think of how new RV owners are dealing with these two issues in addition to the other negative industry issues they face.

SANDIE BOCK
20 days ago

One New England dealer said while sales volume at his dealership was down 20 percent year over year due to a lack of inventory, his margins were more than double those of a year ago. “Everyone is making more money than before,” he said. YA that is because the dealerships are charging all outdoors for these rigs to people who are new to the hobby and ripping people off!!! SHAME on the dealers for doing this but no surprise really. Also the crap that is being manufactured today it is no surprise that people are coming in to get it bought back and not wanting to buy anything else, they got a snoot full of junk being sold today. I just sold my 2002 Fifthwheel and it was in better condition than any fifth wheel sold today that I have seen, and I still own a 2003 Newmar motorhome and would not sell for $200,000 I was offered believe it or not. YES it is a 2003, in GREAT shape and is a gas engine with about 60,000 miles on it. A newbie offered me $200,000.
THAT says it all.

Earl
1 month ago

That’s funny. RV transporters are slower than ever. And wow at the markup on units, I would never purchase one.

George Mindling
1 month ago

While my wife and I are not superstar RVers by any means, we have slept in our travel trailer five hundred and thirty six nights, and traveled over 31,000 miles in our East Coast journeys from Florida to New York in the last eleven years. And we can tell you why we have traveled only once in the last year and a half, and not in the last eleven months. Simply put, we have no place to go.
We still have our twenty-one foot Sportsmen trailer parked nearby and keep it in tow-ready condition. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a place to tow it to. We aren’t into the expensive, sardine-can commercial layouts where you sneeze at ten o’clock at night and forty-two people around you say “Gesundheit.” We camp to escape the crowds, not to be part of them.
Being over 65 years old gives us a financial break when staying at federal campgrounds such as the great US Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds – open to everyone – and many state parks, but they are filled from now until the end of next year.

Lori
29 days ago

“Amen” and “amen” again, George. I have the impression that “newbies” are becoming disenchanted with the new “normal” of not finding satisfactory places to either sleep or stay-awhile. It’s changed old-timers who loved the freedom of not hearing anything when sleeping and of saying “Oh, let’s stop here.”: That’s what RVing is all about, to me.

Kima B.
27 days ago

I’m relatively new (only 4 yrs in my first RV) and it’s turning into madness. I am fairly spontaneous and don’t make hardcore plans weeks (let alone months, and even years) in advance. It’s next to impossible to reserve a spot on the fly. Anywhere at any cost. I guess I’m going to have to adjust how I travel if this is the new normal. I do not enjoy how things are transitioning.

Sam
1 month ago

People are fed up with the quality issues that come with the last 5 years of manufacturing. I own a 2017 jayco travel trailer rocky mountain and its been the worst investment I’ve made. What a piece of crap. Been in the shop more than the road. Then you have to deal with the rv service which wants 249 bucks an Hour to fix items that should be covered. I love rving just not the hassle of owning one. Also prices at rv resorts are getting way out of hand. Cheaper just to drive car and stay. Imoho.

chris
29 days ago
Reply to  Sam

Is Jayco known for quality, or price?

Johnny Rock
1 month ago

That’s why my RV was only 15K used, and is now [PAID] for. I knew it was a depreciating asset, but SHTF scenarios are getting frighteningly real at this point.

Greg
1 month ago

This story is a bit early. This will happen for real in months ahead. RVs have always been white elephants.

That 2 year old class B with 5000 miles on it? It’s worth about $30k. That’s it’s core worth. They are hugely expensive to own if your not a capable mechanic who does a lot of your own work.

If you owe over 100k then your going to have to eat it.

That’s straight up

It’s a gonna get bad. Really bad. RV dealers and factories will be bankrupting by the thousands. RVs will be in foreclosure and unsellable.

Give it another year. Then, if you are a person who actually will use an RV, you can pick up a foreclosure. Know that it will not have been taken care of… So better be a mechanic. For real.

No garage wants to work on RVs. Especially not now. You will not be able to get something as simple as a starter replaced without months of waiting. I would not take them into my shop, were I in the business. Too much t

The outdoors in a machine is a tool using hominoids world.

Daniel McDonald
1 month ago

When you trade it it means you’re upgrading not getting out of it. When trade INS were 13% that was the in rush of new people, now half of those people are realizing the one they bought isn’t right for them and they’re trading it in. Sorry this guise of an article to make you think you’re used camper is worth less than it actually is isn’t fooling anyone

James
1 month ago

The largest volume seller of rvs in country is just 20 minutes from me. Seriously. 8 years in a row. 6 of there sales people have been physically attacked in last year. I know because my nieghbor is one and was in hospital for 2 days. I’m serious it’s bad. People will punch your lights out in Texas you rob them of 100 grand and don’t make it right quick. That’s just how it is. People still live by there word here especially the over 50 crowd. All this talk is legit and true. It’s actually worse than the articles stats.

DJames
1 month ago

So what about the returns? I didn’t open this article because I wanted the footnotes on an rv dealers conference call. What ever happened to the returns?

P T
1 month ago

my 2018 Cougar by Keystone has been repaired for a faulty furnace part, leaking water lines, and now the floor in the bedroom is rotting. Junk, Junk!

James W
1 month ago
Reply to  P T

That’s the big issue right now. An article I read talked about everything coming out now is trash for varying reasons. So much demand they are rushing and people building them are mostly newbies and have no idea what they are doing and with such a high demand quality control is non existent. The long term rv association rep said point blank do not buy a néw rv right now. As he said and i quote. “ they are junk”.

Alex E
1 month ago

Rvs are overpriced due to the pandemic hype — a big price correction will likely occur in the next 12 months.

Earl
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex E

They’ve always been overpriced. Every unit has a markup almost double what it costs to build.

Vincee
1 month ago

People are back to work, now they have to look at the bank loan due every month for the next 15-20 years they were sold on by “those dealers quoted above saying everybody’s making money”! The 38% of millennials that are have bought last year, or are buying this year according to some studies are finding out they don’t have the time or job flexibility to use that huge dust collector in the driveway.

Compound that lack of time to use with the startling lack of quality from the mfg’s. and even worse lack of service from the dealers and there may be a tsunami brewing in the industry that will quickly solve all inventory shortages being experienced today.

I told my son who was shopping for a late model used class C, wait a year or two and you’ll probably save $5-$10K over todays jacked used rig pricing.

James
1 month ago
Reply to  Vincee

Exactly. Wait two years or buy something 5 years old

Scotty
1 month ago
Reply to  Vincee

Sales down 20% but making as much money as ever tells you exactly how much they’re jacking prices.

Vick Barker
1 month ago

Supply and demand. Campsite fees will follow the trend down with reductions in RV’ers and the glut of pre-owned RV’s will soften sales for a while, but it will equalize. I suspicioned spiking RV sales would soften but thought we’d at least ride it out into next year. I think maintaining an RV was much more challenging for those unfamiliar with the ownership duties and life style choices.

MLR
1 month ago

RV’s made today are outrageously expensive junk. RV service is months of waiting with no to bad service. My only hope is for more weekend/online classes for RV/van builds/conversion to go mainstream. Maybe if we take RV’s into our own hands (surely not for all), quality and resale will bring RV joy back to the people! Tiny home builders are you listening?

Darrell Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  MLR

I have had my Dutchstar in a repair shop since January and I am waiting for the parts To be found and delivered. In New Mexico. I call and get same story. Because of Covid parts can’t be found.going to see if they will do all the work except for replacing the jack. Living out of a motel for 3/4 of the year is really really tore up my bank accounts. Don’t know what else I can do.

Scotty
1 month ago
Reply to  MLR

Skoolies ( bus conversions ) are busy busy busy.

Mike Stano
1 month ago

Another reason for getting out of RVing is the terrible, terrible quality of RVs of all types.

Dana
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Stano

Yep!! Been RVing for 50 years. The quality the last 10 years is absolute junk.. Sold mine and ” roughing it” happily.

Ronnie whittemore
1 month ago

Fuel prices are up, camp sites are up,cost more to stock your camper. Can’t get parts, hell the list goes on and on. If something doesn’t change I think the RV industry is in for troubled times. I’ve already cut way back on what we’ve done in the past.

HDNick
1 month ago

We looked at buying one, But the prices the dealers were asking were too high and every single new unit we looked at had several defects new from the factory. So we are taking a wait and see. I’m hoping we can get a slightly used one in the near future where someone has already put the work into making it right.

Stephen L.
1 month ago
Reply to  HDNick

Nick- I have a nice 36’ rig but no time to use. If interested reply & can tell you more. Location is Boston, MA

Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen L.

Need to talk. What kind of rv