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All is not what it seems on ‘full’ RV dealer lots

RV dealer lots around the country are slowly starting to refill, but things are far from normal despite what RVers are seeing as they pass dealer lots along the highway.

The Enumclaw RV Show in Washington state recently announced it was canceling the show, originally set for July 28-31, after being informed that RV dealers and manufacturers wouldn’t be able to provide enough RV inventory at the show.

“The popularity of RVs has resulted in significantly reduced inventory levels for the industry in 2022,” says a statement on the Enumclaw RV Show website. “As a result, the unfortunate decision to cancel the 2022 Enumclaw RV Show had to be made as there were just not enough RVs to display and provide an exceptional show.”

The company that operates the Enumclaw RV show also manages RV shows in Seattle and Puyallup, Washington. Those shows went forward earlier this year, but dealers had so few new rigs to display, they were allowed to bring used rigs to the shows to mix in with the new.

What’s really going on?

To understand the current dynamics of RV supply and demand, you have to go back to the late summer of 2020. That was when the tidal wave of new RV buyers hit the market, at the same time supply chain woes crippled manufacturing.

The frantic new buyers cleaned out dealer lots, and Northern Indiana builders and other plant locations were nowhere near able to help dealers restock. As late as this spring, Thor Industries said they had more than $18.4 billion in backorders after seeing a 56% increase in sales in 2021. Fellow manufacturer Winnebago wasn’t far behind in the backorder department.

“The dealer restocking process will still take a number of quarters to complete and could possibly extend into calendar year 2023,” said Thor CEO Bob Martin in January 2022.

It’s safe to say RV manufacturers haven’t yet solved their supply chain issues. Some dealers report they are taking delivery of RV units with more parts missing than your aunt’s Thanksgiving turkey, on the promise that the parts will “soon catch up” to the incomplete unit.

Thor and other manufacturers have made moves recently to cut links out of their own supply chains. Thor purchased major RV parts manufacturer Airxcel in September 2021 in order to guarantee it got first dibs on Airxcel’s air conditioners, thermostats, shades and everything else they supply.

Why do dealer lots look full?

It’s true that dealer lots are beginning to fill, but that doesn’t mean walk-up buyers are again able to have the pick of the litter.

Most dealers are sitting on a plethora of pre-sold orders, some more than a year old. Many of those rigs you see on dealer lots were sold before the first staple gun was fired at the factory. Some are, as I mentioned earlier, waiting for finishing parts to arrive before owners can take delivery. And many (as more than a few new owners can attest) are back on the lots waiting for elusive warranty work on RVs that (to be kind) aren’t always built with the quality buyers would like.

Anxious buyers are still plopping down deposits on rigs they’ve never seen or walked through. Dealers are also still in the pricing driver’s seat due to supply and demand.

So, despite what RVers may be seeing through their RV windshields as they pass by the highway dealerships, things aren’t anywhere near back to normal yet. But things are changing.

Some huge RV dealerships and chains, like Camping World, are either beginning to cancel advanced orders or are encouraging RV manufacturers to tap the brakes on production in order to increase quality and prevent over-shooting the market once demand inevitably cools.

In the meantime, RV consumer shows in hot markets will likely find it difficult to convince dealers to shortstop their pre-sold inventory and bring it to the show floor when they have paid-for customers waiting.

Related:

RV economists say supply chain woes are finally starting to ease

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Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
26 days ago

This is Mitzi. I highly recommend anyone wanting to purchase a new trailer check out molded fiberglass rvs. There is Oliver in Tennessee, Happier Camper West Coast USA, Snoozy2 South Carolina, Casita Texas, Scamp …I forgot where Scamp comes from. Memory dysfunction catching up with me. There are also Molded Fiberglasses out of Canada. I really really love my 17 ft LilSnoozy, molded fiberglasses measure from tongue jack to rear bumper, its easy to pull with my van, has a dedicated bed AND a jacknife sofa, a wet bath and space for the kitty cats!

Paul Sawayer
1 month ago

So it is hard to figure out what and where the problems are. In Texas, a dealer that has a new 2021 Keystone 328RL listed for around $67K. I bought mine from the same dealer in 2021 for about $10K less. Never used it, but can’t sell it now for even $47,500. What does that say. I am not sure. Maybe it is the Texas market or the economy. I know that now, I would not buy a new rig because of the I Teresa rates, the crazy gas prices and the difficulty finding open RV spaces without booking a year out. It was not what we envisioned in 2021 when we bought ours. Yet, for whatever reason, it remains sitting in covered storage, another expense. We used to do cheap motels when we traveled and may end up going that route again. My problem is that my 328Rl is absolutely beautiful, which is why I guess I still have the baby! Lol

Tom B
1 month ago

I have no evidence of this, but I’d guess dealers on the west coast are not getting their fair share of new RVs. I’d guess dealers much closer to the factories are getting preferential treatment.

Danno
1 month ago

I think that we are going to see some RV dealers filing for bankruptcy at the end of this summer.

McCulloughs
1 month ago

It’s true that the quality of RV’s has gone downhill. We purchased a 2022 ( won’t say maker) last year. We set off this spring on a trip, we noticed that the construction of our Rv was not up to par. The roof skin started lifting off as we drove down the road, the toilet was not installed properly, we constantly had a terrible odor that no matter what we did, it never dissipated. Instead of using caulk around the shower walls, they used tape that completely came off on one side. I’m praying that once we ourselves correct these problems that we’ll have a pretty decent rig, but I’m not holding out much hope.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

We searched high and low, near and far for RVs to see and touch during October 2021- February 2022. We found few. We saw them listed on dealer websites as “coming soon,” or with similar words. However, when we called the dealerships we learned almost all were presold and would be physically present for hours, days while the dealership did final prep. We also learned that a few of the dealers had no slots left for the 2022 model year, meaning we could not order from them until the manufacturers opened orders for the 2023 model year. Eventually we did place an order for a 2022 New Aire 3545 with North Trail RV. We anticipate picking up our finished, complete RV in the next two weeks. 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Neal Davis
Cliff Henrichsen
1 month ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

It looks like it’s showing on their website as Inventory but not as Sold or Pending Sale right now https://www.northtrailrv.com/inventory/search/stocknumber/14477?make=4&model=0&used=2&vehtype=3&year=0

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Thanks, Cliff! Very cool to see. The exterior matches ours, but our interior is different; we ordered the darkest cabinet choice. This one may actually be unsold. Our salesman was given a June 7th date, but he did not know if that was the date it was to reach North Trail, or when it was scheduled to leave Nappanee.

Dewey Proctor
1 month ago

I believe the glut will stabilize and be diminished in relatively short time when the word of the poor quality of the product backed by the poor handling of the warranty issues in general meet with realization that owning an RV isn’t a simple walk in the park that too many buyer wanted think it was.

Robert Rogers
1 month ago

In all fairness to Mike Gast (author), have a look at current financial analyst data and observations. There’s plenty nuggets of good information within Thor’s and Winnebago’s 10Q and listen to the investor call.

Mike, please provide an update based on your current research, and as always, avoid anecdotal observations.

Thanks brother, your update will help the community.

Tom B
1 month ago

The number of RVs shipped to dealers in March was pretty high. I can’t imagine they built that many units from scratch. I’d guess they cleared out the mostly-built units off their lots. The question is, did they get the parts in to finish the last 5% of the builds, or did they just ship them off as is to clear the lots for more partially-built units.

Timothy Smith
1 month ago

We left Middlebury, Indiana, Saturday
Morning 5/21. We live in Texas, received no warranty support from our dealer in Texas, so we went to the Manufacturer for warranty service. If you are able to carve out a couple weeks, we are believers. The warranty guys do really good work.
I can tell you the Thor products are manufactured in Middlebury, and the Entegra line works one 8 hour shift M-F. So from my perspective they are still moving but not at the rate that anyone would consider normal.
Now hiring signs everywhere and the warranty teams work hard to please.
We were scheduled for three weeks but they finished in 2.

Elliot
1 month ago

Quality became a big issue during and after the pandemic, with the inability to hire trained, professional, staff. Now, with increased production pressure, it will only get MUCH worse. RV buyer stories of new units sitting on lots, after purchase, awaiting “factory warranty service” are legion!

hrhppg
1 month ago

How dumb are we supposed to be when everyone whose ever googled “RV” has been hit with spam after spam trying to sell us some apartment on wheels that weighs 20,000 lbs and requires the purchase of a truck to tow it?

John
1 month ago

Just don’t buy the above. I just drove 5600 miles from Colorado to Florida, up to Savannah then NC over through Tenn and Kansas. Saw lots of RV lots packed with rigs especially Camping Worlds. No one was in the lots looking or driving off. They have lots of inventory. Can’t be all those trailers etc waiting for parts. Just my observations.

Ron H.
1 month ago

Interesting article. I needed some maintenance on my Class A and soon discovered it was quicker and easier to make an appointment at a pure RV repair facility than at a dealer with a lot full of “new” RVs (mostly cheap trailers) that were also in need of services. Priorities seem to favor the new unsold inventory over those already owned and on the road.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago

For those who are still in denial, take heed, for the Collapse has begun.

Pay close attention to the ones in control right now. The flames licking their behinds, as we creep closer to November 8th. They will STOP AT NOTHING to save their kingdom, up to and including continuing to burn it all down (which they sure have done with amazing speed so far) So, if your not in cash, better get there, pronto. There will be some quanitative tightening (QT), until a huge drop bakes into the markets, then the clamour to the Fed to print more money, will overwhelm, and the circus will continue a bit more.

But, in the end, bargains galore will be had by those with cash! So, as far as units on the lots, heck, i say scoop up those bargains from the tens of thousands who bought their RV’s and only used em two weeks a year.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago

I’m sure you are all stocked up on freeze dried food from the right-reverend Jimmy Baker…. They have a name for what is affecting you – self reinforced delusion. I’m not a medical professional, but I see the same level of indoctrination in my own family members. I’ll tell you what I tell them – SEEK HELP! Find a good mental health counselor and talk through your feelings of impending doom. Unplug from your right-wing media diet, too.

You and I certainly agree on one thing – when the inevitable economic pendulum swings the other way, it will be a great time to get a new rig. That said, quality issues will keep my money in my pocket/bank.

T N
26 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Well said.

David Brindley
1 month ago

I just returned from a trip through northern Indiana on my way to Lake Superior. Just about every RV dealer we psssed lots we’re full of RVs. I visited the RV Museum and every town that manufactures RVs, all brands and types. The factories properties and just about any location they could lease in the
surrounding area was full of finished parked RVs ready to be delivered to the dealers. THOUSANDS of them. The real issue isn’t the supply chain getting parts to the factories the issue with getting them to the dealers is the lack of transporters to deliver them. Not enough guys with pickup trucks basically. There’s not a shortage of RVs. There’s actually a glutton of them sitting in some farmers fields.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  David Brindley

Guess the author missed the hard facts. Thanks for the true on the ground observation. I was traveling in the East, (PA) and saw the same thing. This is not going to end well.

Paul J
1 month ago

YEP.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  David Brindley

I wonder if those were units waiting for parts? Look at Matts RV Reviews and you will see how many models are missing ladders, units that would normally have a large propane oven are coming with a propane cooktop and a convection microwave, or stranger, a small propane oven and cooktop AND a large convection microwave…. Most AC units are now 15k BTU, and manufacturers can vary from model line, not by manufacturer as one would expect to see. Yes, the pay for RV Transporters is bad, and many (anecdotally) have been holding out for fuel compensation due to high diesel prices (Capitalism…. what can you say). As always, it comes down to supply and demand. There has been so much consolidation in the RV industry, they are ‘too big to fail’, but it will still hurt workers.

Last edited 1 month ago by RV Staff
Chris Owen
1 month ago
Reply to  David Brindley

In Florida, I have seen giant fields full of new RV’s waiting for…something. Unsure what…perhaps for pricing to go up? Unsure

California Travel Videos
1 month ago

In a former pre-retirement life as a sales forecaster, unstable market conditions were our nemesis. Looking at the current market conditions the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) needle is beyond pegged and leading to a chaotic marketplace:
Overbought RV inventory,
unsustainable price increases,
supply chain disruption,
RV construction quality issues,
saturated camping facilities,
rising inflation,
higher interest rates,
soaring fuel prices
weakness in investments (stock market dive),
looming recession…

Looks increasingly like we’re heading for another 10 year milestone and due for another market correction (cash will again be king).
https://www.npr.org/2013/12/24/256744589/thousands-fall-from-middle-class-after-rv-industry-collapse

Last edited 1 month ago by California Travel Videos
Thomas D
1 month ago

How are the drivers of delivery companies fairing? Haul one rv at a time say, from Elkhart to Seattle. Probably around $4000 just for fuel and usually don’t get a back haul.you’d have thought manufacturer would have plants near the east coast and west coast to conserve fuel .2 dealers near me have over 150 rv’s in stock. Finished? Dont care.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Keystone RV has a big plant in Ontario, OR. But, big Class A’s and such make the drive from Elkhart, usually.

Irv
1 month ago

I’m skeptical of the article. I tried to sell a year-old slightly used travel trailer to several dealers and none were interested in it even at a discount to the “blue book value”. All claimed their lots were overfull.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Irv

Before a huge collapse, half are selling the current story, one quarter either dont know, lr dont pay close enough attention. And the other quarter are ready for it. This ones going to be a doozie.

Oh, and for all you mellenials that have not seen a down turn, this one will be one for the ages! You see it does matter who you put in charge, and you’re about to find out the hard way.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago

Okay, Boomer.
First, it is spelled ‘millennial’ – My Daughter is one. Secondly, they know more about money than OUR generation (Boomers/Gen X) were ever taught because they have had to live through several boom-and-bust cycles. Third, unlike the doom-and-gloom you are spreading, the global money markets will take a hit as they always do, and markets will correct themselves. However, I do not see the American taxpayer being willing to cover ‘bad bets’ by Corporations, like we did to keep Big Banks solvent in 2008. In fact, these conditions are why we need MORE oversight of big business, higher taxation (because stock buyback programs are really stolen wages/tax credits) and better financial education in schools.

So, I agree on this point – Thank heavens we have Dems who care about workers, instead of the GOP who cares about Power, Profits and Puritans.

Paul J
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Jeff, you should spread that stuff on the fields in N D. They need some good fertilizer.

McCulloughs
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Agree wholeheartedly. Plus there’s something out there that used to be called Customer Service, training and quality control. Instead of telling workers to work faster to turn out products, they should focus on quality and training.

Yves
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Wow! The dems don’t care about anyone they just want to stay in power. Their policies never work. The GOP is greedy I agree but what’s good for business is good for mostly everyone. Capitalism and hard work made this country great. As long as we protect workers and individual rights we should be ok.

Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

It’s not political, it’s the same game run by the same people. There is no easy recovery and all the financial education in the world won’t save you from$10 gas. This is pure evil at work.

Jeri Shepard
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

❣️

Tim
1 month ago

Anybody that travels I95 north of Richmond sees the RV dealership absolutely packed to the gills with RV’s.
These aren’t sitting there waiting for parts or warranty work.
The glut has begun.

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