Friday, December 1, 2023


RV dealers can’t find RVs to sell. How it affects you

By Mike Gast
I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a conference call with about 20 large RV dealers and a few other “movers and shakers” in the RVing industry. Boy, it was an eye-opener.

You’d think that everyone on the call would have been doing celebratory cartwheels over the RV manufacturing shipment numbers for the past four quarters, not to mention the fact that dealers literally can’t keep any of those new RVs on their lots.

But the call was filled with cloudy, dark undertones of doom. While I can’t name names at this point, the primary topics on the call were the severely broken supply chain for RV parts, the resulting inventory problems for RV dealers, and the price increases dealers are already seeing on the very few rigs that are trickling in from the manufacturers.

As you read this, there are dozens (some say as many as 40) huge container ships floating around the ocean just off the U.S. West Coast near the ports of Long Beach and Seattle. They are full of just what American manufacturing needs to get going again. But the ports are understaffed and there aren’t enough truckers to haul it all away. Thus, links in the supply chain remain broken, and the boats continue to aimlessly float.

Most RV dealers are completely sold out due to broken supply chain

Many of the big RV manufacturing plants can only fully operate for 3-4 days a week before they are forced to shut down and wait for more parts hung up in the supply chain. Unlike dealers’ lots, the manufacturers’ plant acreage is overflowing with nearly done RVs. They’re just waiting for that one missing faucet or silicon chip from China.

The really bad news is that it’s probably going to take a year or more to untangle the supply chain and get things back to any semblance of normal. That likely isn’t going to lessen your time on the RV repair waitlist.

All of this comes, of course, at a time when demand for RVs is at an all-time high. Lack of supply added to increases in demand always lead to higher prices. Dealers say they already had price increases from many manufacturers this spring. They have been told to expect more of the same this summer. Some dealers are doing the right thing and calling buyers who put down deposits and offering to return the funds or at least apply it to a purchase next year. Amazingly, many buyers are telling them to “let it ride” until 2022.

Prices of RVs going up

These factors are also driving up the prices of used RVs, which are the new unicorns of the transportation industry. Industry insiders say typically 40% of new RV sales included a trade-in RV. Now, that figure has dropped to about 13% at some dealerships.

Don’t feel too bad for either the manufacturers or the dealers. They all did pretty well in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. But it has to be frustrating to have to turn away frantic buyers who are willing to purchase anything that would roll off the lot.

This summer, a job in RV sales could be a precarious position … and very, very lonely … all due to the broken supply chain.


Values of used RVs doing something hard to believe!

RV Industry Update, March 2021, video from Josh Winters at Haylett RV


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.



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Charles Hampton (@guest_127248)
2 years ago

Just a small bit of info: integrated circuits (chips) are made using silicon; breast implants are made from silicone.

RV Staff
2 years ago

Thanks, Charles! One little letter sure can make a huge difference! 😆 It’s been fixed. Have a great day! 😀 —Diane

Rod (@guest_126763)
2 years ago

In our dealer (and maybe yours too) they have 100’s of RV’s of all shapes sizes and ages and when you go in to buy one they have a board of 10 (mostly new cheap campers) that has 7 of them sold or pending. When I asked about all the other used ones…they said they were the ones waiting to be repaired.

Crowman (@guest_126570)
2 years ago

Maybe the problem is relying on parts from China to save a couple of bucks instead of manufacturing them in the USA.

Bob T (@guest_126562)
2 years ago

Just got back from a trip thru Ky, Tenn, Ark, Tx, Ls, and Miss. Every RV dealer I passed was loaded with inventory.

Gene Ford (@guest_126508)
2 years ago

It would be helpful to distinguish exactly where said shortages are . . . Travel trailers, Class A or C Motorhomes, etc? In recent travels, I am seeing plenty of travel trailers, but limited motorhomes available.

Adorable Deplorable (@guest_126507)
2 years ago

The RV dealers in SW Florida from Sarasota to Naples off I 75 have lots filled with RVs. There maybe others in Florida but these are the ones I have seen. If you want a new RV SW Florida has them.

Larry Macy (@guest_126504)
2 years ago

Recently in SC, near Myrtle Beach. There are a bunch of RV dealers there, and very little room for more RVs. I think this is a made up story to drive sales. I have yet, since late 2020 to see a PNC RV dealer with an empty lot. Just ain’t real, folks.

Donald N Wright (@guest_126486)
2 years ago

My Aliner is for sale. Listed in Escapees magazine. However, for big RV’s, come to Dallas Fort Worth. RV’s fill the lots.

William M Hewitt (@guest_126484)
2 years ago

My fifth wheel has been for sale for over a year. I could sell it if I wanted to take a big loss but I don’t. My price is reasonable.

Mike Albert (@guest_126474)
2 years ago

Yesterday, I went to CW as well as three other RV shops and dealers in the Ft Myers, FL area. I also spoke with an owner of a reputable RV consignment dealer who is in on the FL state RV association. He said that they can’t get RVs to sell and the ones that they do have are flying off the lot.His lot looked bare at both locations. As far as CW, two years ago, the Units for sale were spaced about one foot apart. Now their side lot had room for two to three units between each one for sale. They too had a lot of repair units in this one lot. The other three dealers also had large spaces that were empty in the rear and side yards, but a large amount of units in for repair. After speaking with the sales manager at one location, he told me one of the main reasons that there are no RV shows this season or scheduled for the fall, is that they have nothing to little to sell. What is being reported is observable. Don’t drink the koolaide.

Larry Macy (@guest_126506)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Albert

At this point, the big Hershey show is still scheduled.
Starting to wonder if this shortage is regional? Lots is SC, and PA, but looks like few in FL.

Michael Gast (@guest_126463)
2 years ago

Comments here clearly illustrate more than a little disbelief of what RV dealers and others were reporting on the call I attended last week. That’s fair. There are likely many other factors in play that didn’t come up during the call. For instance, the RV inventory you are currently seeing on lots are likely RVs that were ordered and manufactured at some point last summer, and delivered either late last year or this spring to dealers. Dealers’ current concerns about the supply chain and order delays likely involves their fear or being unable to restock the stock they currently have. If that’s so, you’ll likely notice supplies dwindling rapidly as the summer goes on. Regardless, I promise I’ll dig deeper into this subject and get some “quotable” facts to you as soon as I can. – Mike Gast

Sink Jaxon (@guest_126523)
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Gast

Hahaha.. looks like you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

rvgrandma (@guest_126455)
2 years ago

If the manufactures have partially finished RVs waiting for parts, maybe this is a good time to slow down and do better quality work. Go out into the lot and go through them looking for things that need fixed now instead of leaving it up to the dealers.

My neighbors has one that when put together the PVC pipes were not ‘glued’ together – just shoved together so they leak under pressure.

Bob M (@guest_126453)
2 years ago

I’ve been to three RV dealers in the last three weeks in North East Pa and the all have lots of RV’s.

Tad Vaughn (@guest_126411)
2 years ago

I call BS. The dealers in FL are loaded with rigs.

Chris Mead (@guest_126407)
2 years ago

Same with cars. For high end models, like Porsche 911s, very hard to find.

Gordy F (@guest_126406)
2 years ago

Made up hype by dealers and good old Chuck!
However lets say its true, from what I am seeing on facebook groups of many mfg’s the quality sucks on what they are turning out. Maybe they should then concentrate on building better units and shaving off a little of the profit margin and pay their teams better.
I wouldn’t buy a unit built right now based on what I am seeing.

Terri Hobble (@guest_126399)
2 years ago

The RV dealerships in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana are also bulging at the seams with RVs, so I’m not believing the hype either.

Richard Carlson (@guest_126391)
2 years ago

Every time you hear “there aren’t enough truck drivers” or fast food workers or buggy-whip makers — just change that to “we don’t pay a wage that would be acceptable”. Basic economics says that if people aren’t showing up to do the job, the amount paid is too low. (Now of course, it may also mean that realistic wages may price you out of the market. But that’s a different thing entirely.)

John T (@guest_126471)
2 years ago

People are not taking jobs because of the inflated unemployment benefits. Return benefits to their normal amounts, and people will go back to work.

Hook n' Haul 789 (@guest_126544)
2 years ago
Reply to  John T


Debi (@guest_127058)
2 years ago
Reply to  John T

And as long as those stimulus checks continue, the longer people wait for handouts instead of working for a living.

Bryan (@guest_126390)
2 years ago

Where are these sold out dealers? I have 3 within an hour of me that are packed with new and used inventory. Maybe these sold out dealers need to talk to their fellow dealers that are flush with inventory.

Charles (@guest_126384)
2 years ago

I keep hearing about rv shortage. Here in Texas I see all the dealer I pass loaded to capacity with rv’s

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