Last Sunday, we ran a story about the inventory situation on RV dealer lots across the country. We had been hearing from many traveling RVers that dealer lots appeared more than adequately stocked, at least when they drove by.
Yet, as the story said, most RV dealers are reporting less-than-satisfactory inventory levels on their lots (according to the RV Dealers Association monthly surveys). Potential buyers have also been reporting long delays in delivery.
The topic obviously hit a nerve with many RVtravel.com readers. More than 75 of you took the time to comment. There were many comments regarding the “fully stocked” appearance of lots. But several would-be RV buyers also said they have experienced problems when they went shopping.
Readers’ comments about RV shortages
Reader BGH said this: “I put an order in for a Tab400 on March 6, 2021, with a ‘late July to early August’ delivery. No recent word on the latest status – I’m thinking by Halloween. One reason why there is such perception of inventory at manufacturer and dealer lots is: the manufacturers need a place to put unfinished RVs while waiting for parts. For my particular model, the manufacturer ran out of cushions as they are all, seemingly, made in Texas and the Great Ice Storm of 2021 wiped out the supply chain. Their factory lot got so full of un-cushioned RV trailers that they had to start shipping them to the dealers without cushions. Then they ran out of air-conditioners and had to wait for the supply chain to get caught up. Now, the latest issue is finding drivers to haul the finished product cross-country. Meaning someone driving by an RV factory or a dealership and views lots of (what appear to be finished) RVs on the lot are seeing unfinished product awaiting parts or finished product awaiting a willing hauler.”
Reader John Olson, a former RV manufacturer, had a different take: “The backlog of RVs on order from dealers may be 100% accurate but the number is not real. As a former manufacturer, I know dealers order a lot more than they can sell (when there is a shortage of supply) because they know they will only get shipped a small percentage of what they order. They also order from a lot of different suppliers because it increases their chances of getting something to sell. Do you really think a customer is going to wait till 2025 for delivery of a 2021 model? Come on, man! LOL No… as the ‘true’ backlog starts to get filled in the next year or so… back orders will get cancelled and manufacturers will cancel old model back orders and take orders on newer models. Depending on how soon the ‘real’ pipeline of back orders get filled, expect dealers and or manufacturers to have a glut of used and new RVs available when that happens.”
Here are the comments of a couple more “unhappy campers”
Charisse Tyson: “We saw a motorhome that we liked in Three Flags, Florida, last year and it was the only one on the lot that we could tour because of low inventory. We were really just being looky-loos but we both loved so many of the features that we decided to upgrade this year. We have a deposit on a Thor Tuscany that won’t even be built until December 30th. Yes, there is a shortage.”
Ronald Jasper: “We placed an order for a Forest River Flagstaff E-Pro E19FD on March 3rd and were told 14 weeks to deliver. That was 5 months ago. We are now being told we may possibly receive it by the end of August. The demand for used trailers is unbelievable. We sold our 2019 Jayco in 5 days, for more than we paid for it new.”
So, the answer to whether dealers have enough inventory on their lots seems to be “it depends.”
The official view
Here’s one more enlightening update on the matter. An outfit called Baird Research this week put out the findings of its most recent Baird RV Dealer Sentiment Index. The index asks RV dealers how they are feeling about the industry, in general. They do the index in partnership with the RV Dealers Association.
RV dealers seem to be retaining a positive outlook. But it’s beginning to slump.
RV dealers registered a 65 on a scale of 100 on their outlook on the current condition of the RV industry. That’s a drop of 15.5% from the numbers last month when the number was 77. The recent peak was in March, when it was 81.
When asked for their outlook 3 to 5 years out, dealers gave an even darker prognosis, registering a 54 out of 100 on the index scale. That’s the lowest point the long-term index has hit since 2011. Anything below 50 on the index is considered “negative.”
Baird analyst Craig Kennison said the drop in dealer sentiment was likely due to supply shortages on lots.
“Dealers have the demand,” he said. “But there simply is not enough inventory to go around.”
So, RVtravel.com readers, any more thoughts on what’s really going on in those dealer lots?