Like a kid coming off a “sugar high,” the RV industry may be seeing the end to the “good times roll” of the COVID-19 pandemic years. We reported earlier that wholesale prices for RVs at auction have taken a tumble. Now the report for folks registering new RVs with licensing agencies for August seems to be indicative of a fall-off for the RV industry. Sales are decidedly down.
“Blip on the radar screen”?
The industry record-keeper, Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI), says registration of new RVs dropped 18% in August when compared to records for August of 2021. That meant only 39,723 new rigs registered this year, compared to 48,473 last. Lest that appear to be an anomalous “blip on the radar screen,” take a look at how new registrations have shown through the year.
From January through August this year, some 339,926 new rigs went to registration. Last year for the same period, 439,900 new rigs made it on the books. The decline is significant, evidently nearly 24% fewer new rigs sold this year. Back in manufacturing land, wholesale movements are also down. RV builders shipped out only 33,783—around 6,000 fewer units shipped to dealers than were sold. At the same time, Black Book, another RV industry number cruncher, observed that most dealers were reporting they had enough stock on hand.
Sales brass tacks details
If you’re interested in the brass tacks, here we go. For towables, fifth wheels took the biggest downturn in evident retail sales, down more than 34%. Travel trailers trailed in sales by 16%. If there were a bright side to sales, pop-ups and park models only fell about 3% each.
On the motorhome side of the sales lot, Class A rigs took a beating, with sales down nearly 27%. Class C units did marginally better, down only 19%. Class B camper van sales were the only bright spot, actually increasing in sales by nearly 18%.
It looks as if this is more than just a “seasonal adjustment” with off-travel-season approaching. Is it market saturation? Has the luster worn off of the idea that getting an RV is the greatest way to escape? Time will tell. If you’re thinking of buying, keep an eye on the prices—this winter may be the time to make a deal.
I’m guessing this could really affect us being able to trade in our 2 year old fifth wheel. We were considering downsizing to a smaller unit as this one has turned out to be too big for us.
This winter may be a good time to buy IF no trade in. Trade values are/will also plummet. Also, don’t expect deals on Class B’s if sales are up as prices, already incredibly high on those, may continue to go up as manufacturers and dealers try to offset revenue and profit declines on other RV types.
It would be interesting to know where bank repo’s are at right now with the economy tanking as it is.
How is the economy ‘tanking’? We are at full employment, and corporate profits are at a 50 year record high (which means they are keeping cash that SHOULD go to their workers). Sure, inflation is hitting hard, but the ‘easy ride’ we had for the last 30 years due to cheap overseas labor, has been cut back from Covid and foreign (Chinese Communist, Russian Fascist, Saudi Theist) government actions. Just because Wall Street is worried about their profits, doesn’t mean that the ‘fear mongers’ who are trying to scare you are correct.
40 year high inflation and two quarters of GDP decline. Did you even read the article? And don’t worry the record unemployment is coming.
It’s not fear mongers that have caused Credit card debt in the U.S. hits all-time high of $930 billion (cbs news) and mortgage delinquencies are up 55% over pre-pandemic levels. This is real life and our current situation. Not to mention international issues Jeff. But we will persevere and prevail. That is why RV sales will and have taken a hit.
Stop salivating over what lie Biden has told you and pay attention to whats going on..
I’m just surprised how long it’s taken you guys to catch on to this. We knew this was happening last Spring, when every RV sales lot we passed on a cross-country trip was jammed with unsold units. It’s a huge deal, and yet you guys continue to weasel-word the situation “head downward” should say “tanked”, and “may be seeing the end” should say “is facing a crisis”. Sorry, I’m disappointed in you…
Saw the same thing and just kept rubbing my eyes. I see a tax deduction coming for the manufacturers if they donate units to the homeless or to replace what’s lining the streets of the West Coast. The manufacturers all knew this was a blip and only pumped out units as fast as they could with no plans to keep it going into the future.
We would likely have been customers for an upgrade this year but the prices for what we’d like to have stopped us. Our Class A gasser is only 4 years old and even moving to the newest version of what we have would have cost us at least $100k plus our trade and wouldn’t have addressed the ride, which is our biggest motivator to change. It just isn’t worth it to us. Going to a diesel would have cost $250k at minimum plus our trade. Discretionary spending is different for everyone’s situation, and this was way beyond acceptable to us.
You need to stop looking at new units. Common sense dictates buying well-maintained older units, especially in the DP arena. After doing extensive homework, we bought a like-new condition Country Coach that was 8 years old several years ago, and paid less than a third of it’s new price. All you get when you buy new is the privilege of suffering catastrophic depreciation for a decade while you sort out manufacturing defects. Now that prices are tanking, you should be able to find a great coach for peanuts. Go for it…
I am also looking to upgrade from a Gas MH (Tiffin), for the same reasons as Claudia. I have been researching (as Don suggested) going with a Country Coach. Hopefully next year. Excellent advice Don. Like many others I took the longer route to a DP but it has been a good learning experience. Definitely looking forward to a smoother and quieter ride and lower prices next year.
Prices already declining and sales increasing in my email. Think we have 12-24 months of declines coming.