Saturday, December 2, 2023


The RV show doesn’t go on – and it’s not a COVID cancellation

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The years 2020 and 2021 are ones marked by a huge croaker for RV retailers: show cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in Fort Myers, Florida, the RV show doesn’t go on, and it has nothing to do with COVID-19 – well, not directly.

The dealers started calling in

The 26th Annual RV SuperSaver Show (links to 2020 show, since 2021 show website not available) was supposed to bring in RV lookee-loos and serious buyers this April. Promoters ramped up to greet the masses at Lee County’s CenturyLink venue. But then the dealers started calling in.

Back in the ’60s the question was, “What if they had a war, and nobody came?” In Florida, it’s, “What if they had a show, and nobody had anything to sell?” Dealers in Florida (and elsewhere around the U.S.) are reporting shortages of both new and used rolling stock. Everett Henkel III is from dealer RV Kountry, and is associated with show management. “We realize the public is clamoring for our products, but we wanted to continue our decades-long tradition of showcasing the finest RV products available at our events and at this time it just isn’t possible.” The RV show doesn’t go on.

Not the first to cancel

Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Last January the big 36th annual Fort Myers RV Show – the largest dealer-sponsored event in the state – was likewise canceled. Reason? A paucity of inventory. The RV show doesn’t go on.

But organizers aren’t giving up. They’re still planning a fall RV show, and for next January, the 37th annual Fort Myers show. Will that actually be the 36th? The viability of future shows depends on RVers’ buying habits, and how many used rigs flood the market. With pundits suggesting many new buyers will find they don’t use their rigs like they thought they might, by next fall, dealers may be awash with them.


Should RV shows go on during lingering pandemic?



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Dry Creek (@guest_118755)
2 years ago

I guess inventory varies by location.

Just for comparison, last weekend we dropped by PPL Motorhomes Cleburne TX location.
This was the lowest inventory I’ve ever seen on their lot!
Of course, what I’m looking for is basically a unicorn anyway, all of the 32′ Winnebago Journeys or Itasca Meridians get snapped up within days of landing on a dealer’s lot.

Cathi (@guest_118656)
2 years ago

The main items I have seen on dealers lots were towables, not the class A or C units. Maybe I am just seeing a different sector here on the west coast.

Edward (@guest_118684)
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathi

You are correct.
Here at a dealership in Florida, there are over 60 5th wheels to choose from. There are no class B or C units and two Class A coaches. One is priced $100,000 above book and the second is $51,000 above book.

Cheryl Bacon (@guest_118616)
2 years ago

Why pay the fees and all the other costs of bringing your inventory to a show, when they are selling fine on your lots? They aren’t canceling because of covid or lack of inventory, they are canceling because they don’t need to go to the added expense of going to a show to sell their inventory. Simple finance is going on, nothing else.

Dale (@guest_120005)
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Bacon

Exactly, Cheryl. I’m in Palm Beach and there is no room left on dealer lots for any new inventory.

H Goff (@guest_118595)
2 years ago

I went to the palm beach RV show a few weeks ago -lots of RVs there –

Ray (@guest_118577)
2 years ago

For 20 years I have driven by a Camping World about twice a week. Their lots are packed with RVs more so now than I have ever seen them. I’ve heard the response that they are all set for delivery. I don’t think so. Its been that way for months. I don’t believe you could open the slides without closing the adjacent slides. Kudos to the fork lift driver who moves them around. I’ve often wondered what they would do if you requested one way back in the back to be brought forward.

Bob P (@guest_119046)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray

They have a big helicopter to get that one out or they talk you into buying the one one the front row AND Give you 20 years to pay for it. Lol

john stahl (@guest_118527)
2 years ago

Around the Houston area the Holiday World and Camping World and other RV dealer lots seem to have a smaller inventory than in past years. The units are spaced farther apart on the show lots than in past years. It is a sellers market now but not as many to sell as in the past. You can still purchase an RV but not as big a selection as in past years.

Shamrock camper (@guest_118509)
2 years ago

Traveled more than a thoudand miles this winter, and all the dealers had full to bursting lots, not to mention rv emails trying to get u in for a looky see. Must be a marketing scam.

Pat Berger (@guest_118500)
2 years ago

You all keep talking about the shortage of rv’s. When we pass the rv lots they all seem to be busting at the seams with overflow. We live in the small town of Leesburg FL and travel around some but am not understanding this thinking.

Edward (@guest_118685)
2 years ago
Reply to  Pat Berger

Since the dealerships have little inventory, they are using their lots as storage since there are few places to store a large coach or trailer.

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