This question is for all of you longtime RVers out there – Did you really think you were going to be able to keep a good thing all to yourself?
Anyone who has taken to the road during the last year-and-a-half knows how much the landscape has changed in RVing. Gone are the days of “pull up at 4 p.m. and pick a site, any site.” If you didn’t make your camping reservations when you were at least a year younger than you are now, good luck.
How many units were shipped this year?
News last week out of the RV manufacturing industry is the best indication yet that the explosion in popularity for RVing isn’t going to abate anytime soon. The RV Industry Association is projecting the industry will finish 2021 with a record 590,000 units shipped from factories.
And how many next year?!
If you think that number is staggering, consider that the group is already projecting RV manufacturers will crank out more than 600,000 rigs in 2022 – a 4 percent increase on top of this year’s record. And they are doing this at a time when the supply chain remains crippled, with container ships full of parts bobbing around the Pacific Ocean like a school of dead carp.
It appears that the armchair RV pundits out there who were projecting rookie RV buyers would quickly lose interest in the lifestyle and attempt to sell their barely used RVs might just be wrong.
We’re seeing the “churn rate” with RVs
A few years ago, when I was toiling away in the dying newspaper industry, we were very concerned with something called the “churn rate.” Churn was the number of new subscribers we had to find to replace the readers who decided they’d read enough of our drivel and stopped their papers. If you could slow the percentage of readers leaving the paper, even just a little, your readership would grow exponentially as new readers came aboard.
That’s a bit of what we’re seeing now in RVing. New RVers are gobbling up everything manufacturers can put over a set of wheels and – so far – haven’t shown an interest in selling their new rolling vacation homes.
So, if new RVers aren’t selling out and manufacturers can crank out an additional 600,000+ new rigs next year, the woes of camping in 2021 aren’t likely to go away. Just where are we planning to put ANOTHER 600,000 fresh-faced RVing families when they take to America’s highways and byways?
Don’t look to the RV Industry Association for any quick answers. They are certainly aware of campsite shortage issues, and they have more than a few committees working on it. But it’s hard to miss their joyous conga-line dance all the way to the bank.
“The remarkable production from the RV manufacturers and suppliers is nothing like we have ever seen before, and our new forecast shows the record-breaking streak will continue,” said RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. “Over the past year, millions of people discovered that RVs are the best way to experience the great outdoors and the many benefits of an active outdoor lifestyle. The demand from these new RV owners, as well as our returning customers, is driving the increased RV production we will continue to see through the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.”
Light at the end of the tunnel?
If you’re anxiously waiting for used RV lots to fill up with discounted year-old rigs from fresh RVers who become disenchanted with their travels, you might have to wait a while longer.
For longtime RVers looking for some respite from the masses of new campers, there is some light on the horizon. Even the RV Industry Association doesn’t think the current tsunami of new buyers can last forever. They think the tide could turn as early as late 2022.
“RV shipments are projected to reach an all-new high in 2022, but there will be lower RV shipment growth rates in comparison to 2021 because of supply chain issues, inflation, rising interest rates, and slowing economic growth later in 2022,” the group said in last week’s release.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see just when more RVing newbies finally decide they really prefer boutique hotels.
As always, we’d like to hear what you think in the comments below.