Tuesday, December 5, 2023


Is RVing an economic recession indicator?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Is there an economic recession looming? Many point to Elkhart County, Indiana, as the economic forecast hot spot. Since 80 percent of all U.S.-built RVs come from Indiana, and 65 percent from this county alone, when money is tight, big ticket items are the first things that folks stop buying – so the theory goes. So how goes it with big ticket RVs?

A local newspaper reports that wholesale shipments of RVs are down more than 20 percent, year-to-date. The county’s unemployment rate rose from 2.8 percent to 3 percent in June. May not sound like much, but all other counties in the state watched their unemployment rate go down at the same time. Too, the average number of work hours in Elkhart County dropped by four.

RV industry talking-heads say, don’t worry so much, their explanation of the slowdown in wholesale RV shipments was tied to too much RV dealer exuberance. Their spin on the matter is that dealers loaded up on inventory, thinking there would be a long-term buying frenzy, but RVers proved them wrong. Industry officials say it’s just an adjustment, and things will soon be looking good. They also note that RV shipments have dropped in five periods since 1981, but only three of those periods saw recessions thereafter.

It appears this will be another “time will tell” issue. Stay tuned.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Dry Creek (@guest_51645)
4 years ago

I would tend to agree that the overall quality of new RV’s aren’t quite what they were just 10 years ago. Does this drive new sales? I am not qualified to answer that, but what would be great is an in-depth look at used sales prices versus new. If older RV units have higher (perceived) quality than newer units, then we should be able to see an uptick in residual value (sales prices).
I hope that RVIA gets right on that and does some investigative reporting! I’m looking forward to their expose’.

If the older units become more desirable, maybe we will see the emergence of a new industry – RV restoration. The interiors will be thoroughly remodeled and provided with new (dependable?) appliances, while the drivetrain gets a once-over and refurbishment where required.

Dry Creek (@guest_51647)
4 years ago
Reply to  Dry Creek

I also forgot to mention – when the RV Restoration business gets rolling – maybe they’ll *all* leave the center with full-body paint. At least a refreshed exterior appearance.

One can dream….

Colin Flagg (@guest_51642)
4 years ago

I hear buy used not new. Then why is my ten year old class A being turned away at Thousand Trails?

Dry Creek (@guest_51646)
4 years ago
Reply to  Colin Flagg

Wow, I have yet to visit a Thousand Trails “Resort” where *any* unit was turned away. I have seen some very neglected units on their long term lots. It’s sad, almost like a place where elephants go to die when they sense it’s the end…

Maybe you were at one of the other high-end resorts that are now affiliated with TTR?

David Nowak (@guest_51607)
4 years ago

For the years I’ve been reading Rv travel, the number of complaints have been rising from new rig owners and the recommendations to buy used has been keeping up. Do you think the “word” got out and finally reached Elkhart?

sandy (@guest_51577)
4 years ago

So I’m wondering if the economy does slow down will I be able to get a campsite? Will the gas prices go down? I’m retired and financially okay but it could always be better

Jackie D (@guest_51575)
4 years ago

As a consumer I am in agreement with Ed D. Shoddy built junk is all we ever see at the RV dealerships. As the workmanship is now, I would never buy new. They build them cheap and sell them high. We have a 2008 Class A Pacifica and I would put my old RV up against any of the junk out there now. It is just built better. And, that’s how fast it’s all gone down hill.

Tim Woody (@guest_51561)
4 years ago

My thoughts are that after the Bush-Obama recession there was a pent up demand and sales were very hot for a while. As the demand has started to satisfied sales have slowed.

John T (@guest_51583)
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim Woody

That is exactly what is going on. The pent-up demand has been satisfied.

Billy Bob Thorton (@guest_51923)
4 years ago
Reply to  John T

Exactly. But, buy low, sell high. Just in case.

Jeff Craig (@guest_51631)
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim Woody

Don’t make this political. Also, you needs to look at the 2007 timeline, the Great Recession started in 2007, and the government bailouts started before the November 2008 election.


John (@guest_51511)
4 years ago

Listening to CNBC for the stockmarket figures yesterday (friday) the pres. Of Thor industries was going to be interviewed re: the slow down in the RV market ,but was unable to hear it. Maybe someone else did. The econ. Slowdown no dought.

Ed D. (@guest_51499)
4 years ago

Personally, it is my belief that the RV industry is experiencing a decrease in sales due to shoddy workmanship and the market being saturated with RV’s. Even Chuck says it is almost impossible to get a “last minute” RV spot at a campground these days. There have been so many horror stories about Camping World, that they are now rebranding and changing their name to “Gander RV”. So maybe the RV industry, as a whole, should clean up their act and begin to build on “quality”, noy “quantity”!

Donald Wright (@guest_51493)
4 years ago

So production slows on the monster RV industries assembly plants. How is production for the smaller RV’s , say, oh, twenty five feet or shorter?

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