Thursday, March 30, 2023


Economic woes and fuel prices not scaring away campers or RV buyers

Rising fuel prices and the roller coaster economy don’t seem to be holding back campers or RV buyers this summer.

Kampgrounds of America’s Monthly Research Report for June found that 21.5 million camping households are planning a Fourth of July camping trip this year. That’s an 8.6% increase in campers over the July 4th holiday results in 2021. It should be noted that the KOA research covers all campers, and not just those camping at KOA campgrounds.

In fact, KOA’s research found many campers intend to extend their trips this Fourth of July holiday. More than one in four (26%) Fourth of July campers plan to camp the entire week before or after the holiday, while 27% indicate they will extend the weekend by one or two days.

“Our monthly research reinforces what we are seeing in our own business,” said Whitney Scott, chief marketing officer for KOA. “Advanced deposits for Fourth of July are up 5% in camping nights over our record-breaking year of 2021.”

Despite gas prices and the economy, nearly three-fourths (74%) of campers who camped in 2021 say they intend to do the same this year. It is projected that 11.95 million households will take a camping trip in June alone.

As during past periods of upheaval, campers seem to be evolving their habits by traveling shorter distances (34%) or taking fewer trips (33%). Many are also staying longer at their destinations. KOA’s research also showed that campers are becoming a bit more loyal to the lifestyle, with four in ten indicating they intend to camp instead of using other travel options such as air flight or cruises.

What about those who aren’t camping?

Folks who identified themselves as campers but said they won’t be camping this year said economic uncertainty was the most significant factor in their decision. Of these households, 30% said financial concerns would keep them from camping, while 25% cited gas prices. Overcrowding at popular campgrounds also presents a barrier impacting one-fourth (26%) of campers.

Yet 65% of camping households said they do plan to camp in 2022. Of those, 32% indicated that they would not change their plans due to increased fuel costs, while some will take fewer trips (30%) or camp closer to home (29%).

RV buyers

Campers’ intent to purchase an RV seems to also be ignoring economic challenges. The KOA study found the intent to purchase an RV, which fell in May (30%), increased to 34%. Campers are also indicating a higher threshold for gas prices before changing plans ($4.72 per gallon in May versus $5.74 per gallon in June), indicating that despite external factors, there is a reluctance to change plans.




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9 months ago

If the outlook for camper sales is so bright I wonder why the CEO of Thor is planning to cut their production by up to 20% to head off potential overbuilding of units? Considering that much of their current production is fulfilling unfilled prior backlog of sales that is normally not there, what does that tell us?

On last night’s national news they said that airline flight bookings are higher now than pre-pandemic. If many of those pre-pandemic fliers are the ones that I’ve read rushed to buy RV’s, what does that tell us?

I always smile at Mike Gast’s extremely positive and cherry picked analysis of the stats, which can be interpreted numerous ways. Sometimes I wonder if he still works for KOA by just regurgitating their stats and outlooks vs doing full analysis and providing a balanced comprehensive report.

Bob p
9 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Be careful, you might uncover Johnny’s brother. Lol

9 months ago

Looks like the price of crude went down about $8 last week. Maybe a peak?

9 months ago

Just spent 2 weeks in a state park in Georgia and pretty empty during the week. Then on Friday here come the weekend warriors as the host calls them. He say mostly same ones every weekend and are within 35 miles of the park. Then spent 6 weeks in gulf shores and same thing. Owner told me he has opening Monday thru Thursday but weekends mostly booked.

Bob p
9 months ago
Reply to  Tom

This is what I’ve been saying for a year, overcrowding is only on the weekends or in heavy tourism areas. We also don’t use online reservations, we call, what you say that’s so old fashioned, yes but it still works. I still stand by what I told a person 30 years ago when she told me “computers don’t lie, I replied you’re right but liars operate computers”. She didn’t know what to say.

9 months ago

Yes, the price of fuel is disgusting. Cost me $1300 in diesel for my recent trip with my 5th wheel from Colorado to Branson, MO. Having to put my credit card in the pump twice when the pump stops at its pre-determined upper limit is an extra slap in the face. However, I will never have this day or this summer again. I will do what I need to do financially so not to give up on the joys of RV’ing and caravanning with my closest friends. Life is too short. One thought I leave for all…be mindful of policy over personality when you vote. We are pawns of regulatory policy. Policy affects our quality of life…

9 months ago
Reply to  Marty

The high cost of fuel is due to shortages, which is due to refineries shutting down because of Covid19 and people using less fuel for travel. Some refineries closed permanently and others are struggling to get back to peak production. Oil companies are still making record profits though.

9 months ago

We are still 2+ weeks out from July 4th…we ALL have camping plans because (sadly) we had to reserve those dates last year…..

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