We at RVtravel.com continue to receive reports from traveling RVers that they are seeing “plenty” of new RVs sitting on dealer lots across the U.S.
That anecdotal information runs counter to the official public statements of big RV manufacturers such as Thor Industries and Winnebago, as well as Camping World Holdings, the largest system of RV dealerships in the U.S. Thor and Winnebago are both reporting billions of dollars in order backlogs for “already sold” RVs. Both manufacturers said it could take months and up to a year or more to fulfill those back orders.
So, what’s going on at the dealer lots?
We decided to ask Phil Ingrassia, President of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA). Ingrassia told us that his organization conducts a survey of RV dealers each month. The July RVDA survey reported that 100% of towable RV dealers and 92% of motorhome dealers said their lot inventories were “too low.”
Ingrassia said he suspects that the “full lot” reports from RVers could stem from the fact that many dealers have multiple new “pre-sold” units on their lots that are either awaiting owner delivery or (much more likely) were delivered from factories missing a key part or two and are on the lots waiting for the proper parts to catch up before the new owner can drive away. International supply chain woes have made it difficult for factories to complete RV units due to a lack of parts. RVer-owned units that are just sitting on dealer lots waiting for repairs due to those aforementioned missing parts may also be adding to the illusion of a full lot.
Ingrassia said another factor could be more RV dealers storing units for their customers (because they have the room right now due to – you know – low inventories), thus giving the appearance of a full sales lot.
It’s doubtful that many RV dealers would willingly fess up to the fact that they don’t have much on their lots for sale right now. The only people who really know how tight inventories are would be the folks who have their hearts set on purchasing a particular model.
So, potential new RV buyers, how hard is it to find that RV of your dreams? Let us know in the comments section below.
We bought our Lance 2465 at the Tampa RV show in January 2021. We were told at closing by the head of operations that we would get our trailer by April. We even had that in writing! We have checked in with the dealer every month now and have been given multiple dates that our purchase would be in for delivery. This is the end of August and we still don’t have an honest answer nor any decent communication from the dealer!!!!!! That’s 8 months. We have incurred expenses traveling to Florida to prepare to take delivery only to be told, “It’s still at the factory”. ARGH!!
The backlog of RV’s on order from dealers may be 100% accurate but the number is not real. As a former manufacturer, i know dealers order alot more than they can sell (when their is a shortage of supply) because they know they will only get shipped a small percentage of what they order. They also order from alot 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… backorders will get cancelled and manufacturers will cancel old model backorders and take orders on newer models. Depending on how soon the “real” pipeline of backorders get filled, expect dealers and or manufacturers to have a glut of used and new RV’s available when that happens.
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’re all, seemingly, made in TX 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 w/o cushions. Then they ran out of air-conditioners and had to wait for 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 prod awaiting a willing hauler
I believe and have seen a shortage of RV’s at dealers. I think the units people see at dealers are not the type or style that campers are looking for. Same with tow vehicles.
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.
We placed an order for a Forest River Flagstaff Epro E-19FD 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.
We wanted to upgrade from our first 18 ft camper. We spent months searching for a particular model. That company has a backlog of orders. We found a similar camper that has the features we want plus extra perks making it pricier than we originally intended to spend. We’ve already purchased what we want, just waiting for it to be”born”. Due in a month.
Drove through Indiana RV capital. More rvs sitting then you can can count. No shortage, manufacture/dealer created shortage
Or, as the article states, there is a shortage of some parts, making it impossible to complete the units. That is not a “manufacture/dealer created shortage”, but a supply-chain shortage. Why would a manufacturer or dealer create the illusion of a shortage? They want to sell units, so not shipping complete units is counter to what a manufacturer would want to do, and a dealer not ordering units for his lot runs counter to what they want to do.
Over the past 4 years, usually my dealer (Lazydays Tampa) has a handful (4-8 I’d guess) of new unsold Entegras on their lot. This past Friday there were Zero!
In May 2021, we thought we wanted a Casita and were told by the manufacturer it would be at least a one year wait. Then we went to look at a show room model Sol that was just for looking at. While at the dealer we saw new Little Guy Mini Max trailers on the lot. We looked them over thoroughly and bought one on the spot. We love it. No carpet on the walls (Casita) and separate grey and black tanks which the Sol doesn’t have.
We take at least one trip each month mostly to places where we don’t have full hook ups. You know, those places with beautiful views, peace and quiet and dark skies.
Drove by Casita 2 weeks ago. There were at least 20 new units on the south side of the plant. Every time I drive by the plant there is plenty of new inventory to be purchased. Nice RV for the money.
Short supply could be a lot of things, Dealers who are interested in my used Aliner think I should sell it to them for 20% of the blue book value. Perhaps by purchasing your old unit, that can remove the parts they need to sell a new unit. Perhaps they have hundreds of RV models that no one wants. Or, as mentioned below, they are creating a crisis to raise the prices.
This shortage of the industry sound like a ploy to increase the prices of the units. (Supply & Demand). Grand Design has just raised their units by 6%, sounds like they are cashing in on this shortage BS.
Rv mfg’s would never tell a fib. So, maybe rv dealers are requesting more inventory and rv mfg’s are considering these as ‘sold’.
Your article on lack of RV’s available to purchase may be somewhat inaccurate. This statement may apply to small dealerships, but the big dealers have multiple units on their lot for sale (used & new). I can make this statement from experience. I walked into a large RV dealer in NY, gave the salesman a rough idea of what I was looking for and was shown three or four variations, all new units. FYI – I did purchase a new 2021 Travel Trailer same day. Short Supply in my interpretation is False.
Based on the comments today, it appears the truth depends on the dealer, how many units they had on the lot when the pandemic started, what parts are still missing when the factory shipments arrive, metro areas vs, rural, big dealership vs small, etc etc etc. The comments here paint a fascinating picture of just how varied things are. it looks like you MIGHT get lucky on a lot, if you are satisfied with what they have parked there at the moment. If you want anything specific, you could be settling in for a multi-month wait. Supply and demand always determine prices. While it isn’t hard to believe that some unscrupulous dealers/salespersons would leverage “panic buying” by using the “better act fast” tactic, I find it harder to believe that they would tell potential buyers that they would face a multi-month wait (which appears to be reality for many buyers) just to run up the price if they truly had the desired units in stock.
Hi, Mike. I’ve been hearing an RV dealer ad on the radio this weekend where they say, “Come on in and pick out your RV. If we don’t have what you want in stock, we’ll custom order it for you.” But they don’t mention how long the wait would be to actually get it. Hmmm. Have a great day! 🙂 –Diane
It is true about campers taking space on lots waiting on parts. We have been waiting since June. We decided to wait for “all of the parts” to be in before having the work done piece meal. Happily the last part , a new AC is due to arrive this week and we should be all set very soon.
I think this article is inaccurate as well. I’ve seen lot after lot full of 5th wheels, trailers and class Cs. I see by dealer websites that super Cs are back ordered.
just as used cars, this is a great time to raise prices.
We ordered a Lance TT in January were told to expect delivery in May. It finally arrived in July but the wait was worth it. Thats ok, we didn’t have a trip planned and we know we will love our trailer made to the specs we wanted.
I’d also like to say my Camper World salesperson was knowledgeable and helpful. I think the inflated prices are mandated by management.
I’ve been looking at small TTs and mid-sized TTs. I visited a CamperWorld lot to walk through several GeoPros and Keystone models. Their lot was not large but full. I also drove by 3 other Camper World dealerships and other RV dealerships and those lots appeared full. I do think the salespeople are inflating the prices on the units they have. I have to wait for my Ford F150 Hybid PowerBoost that I had to pay MSRP for to be delivered (Thank you Mike Sokol for your columns on this truck) in Dec so I am going to take my time. This will come back to bite the RV industry. Also, I believe there is going to be a glut of slightly used RVs of all kinds in a year or so.
I’d also like to say that my salesperson at Camper World was knowledgeable and helpful. I think the inflated prices are likely being mandated by management.
I say someone trying to make something bigger than it is. I know several that went on lot and got one that same week.