Sales of new RVs continue to soar

15

There seems to be no end to American’s new appetite for RV travel. RVs are flying off RV dealers’ sales lots faster than they can replace them. Until just recently, most of the sales were to first-time buyers, with no trade-ins. Dealers report that is changing slightly as some older RVers “age out” of the market.

The RV Industry Association’s August 2020 survey of manufacturers found that total RV shipments ended the month with 39,489 units, an increase of 17.3% from the 33,674 units shipped in August 2019.

Towable RVs, led by conventional travel trailers, totaled 35,561 units for the month, an increase of 20.8% compared to last August’s total of 29,448 units. Motorhomes finished the month with 3,928 units, down (-7.1%) compared to the August 2019 total of 4,226 units.

For the year, shipments stand at 258,591 units, off just 7.1% as the RV industry continues to overcome the nearly two-month shutdown this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEE AUGUST SALES CHART BELOW.

NO SLOWDOWN IN SIGHT
RV shipments are expected to surpass 400,000 wholesale units by the end of 2020 and see continued growth in 2021 to more than 500,000 units, according to the Fall 2020 RV RoadSigns prepared by ITR Economics for the RV Industry Association.

The new projection sees total shipments ranging between 414,200 and 434,500 units with the most likely 2020 year-end total being 424,400 units. That total would represent a 4.5 percent gain over the 406,070 units shipped in 2019, overcoming a nearly two-month RV industry shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial estimates for 2021 have a range of 494,400 to 519,900 units with a most likely outcome of 507,200 units, a 19.5 percent increase over 2020.

The 507,200 units projected for 2021 would represent the best annual total on measurable record for the RV industry, eclipsing the 504,600 units shipped in 2017. The projected 424,400 units in 2020 would be the fourth best annual total on record.

Towable RV shipments are anticipated to reach 383,900 units in 2020 and 452,500 units in 2021. Motorhome shipments are projected to finish at 40,500 units in 2020 and 54,700 units in 2021.

“The RV industry has experienced strong consumer growth over the past 10 years, but the recent soar in consumer interest in RVing driven by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a marked increase in RV shipments to meet the incredibly strong order activity at the retail level,” said RV Industry Association President Craig Kirby. “This new forecast confirms what we have been seeing across the country as people turn to RVs as a way to have the freedom to travel and experience an active outdoor lifestyle while also controlling their environment.”

CHART COURTESY OF RVIA

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Joe
9 days ago

we are in the HOPE phase of the worst economic crash of modern times. the banks are lending to just about anybody to keep the money velocity flowing. This nightmare will unravel over the next 3 years and these res will be damn near free

John T
1 month ago

The hype and panic over a supposed boom in sales are the result of misinterpreting the data. As shown in the chart, shipments are DOWN 7% this year. That is why the sales lots are currently empty.

Year-on-year increases for a particular month (August in the chart above) are meaningless when production and availability on the sales lot were close to zero for a number of prior months. Production and sales are merely catching up on opportunities lost during those months. True, there is some increase in demand from people who want to RV in place of hotel travel, but the supply for the year is actually less, as demonstrated by the 7.1% drop in shipments. The result of increased demand with reduced supply is an increase in price paid, not an increase in sales accomplished.

John
25 days ago
Reply to  John T

True . Production is down due to Covid and a shortage of workers to begin with.

Cheryl Bacon
1 month ago

Now is the time to buy a good location plot of land that is zoned commercial. Then build a RV storage lot. You will make a fortune while all those slightly new RV’s get stored because people got bored with them and they are off buying the next latest and greatest product.

John
1 month ago

Judging by the questions on forums I wish people did more research before they buy these RVs. They have no idea what weight, towing capacity, etc mean. How much maintenance is involved. And the dealers don’t care to inform them.
Someone said that there will be a lot of these RVs for sale in a couple of years when they realize how much work is needed to own it.

Paul
1 month ago

Supply and demand, that’s the name of the game. With high demand, prices of units are so high now, dealers are asking for MSRP. Can’t believe that. I live in Florida and I have never seen major dealers in the Tampa area with almost empty lots. (except the high price motor coaches). Also noticed the local RV parks filled, something that never occurs in the Florida summertime. I was in the market for a new coach, but I think I’ll wait till Covid 19 is over (maybe someday) and there will be tons on the used market.

John T
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

The lots are empty because shipments are down 7% this year. Consequently, demand exceeds supply, driving the prices up.

Dave R
1 month ago

Year to date still down 7% given the large declines that happened in April/May. So there are still less total RVs being sold for the year vs. 2019 even though the last few months have been hot.

More RVs are on the road because the usage rate of people that own them is up as that is one of the fewer perceived ways of safer travel.

RVs are not available at dealers because production was down due to covid and supply has been constrained while demand has increased. Not a great recipe for a deal.

Jeff George
1 month ago

There are a few stories within this story that I’d like to know more about. Are YOY figures down for all categories but vans because of lost production capacity? Are motorhome sales down because their production was more difficult to ramp up when plants were reopened? Are these new purchasers full-timers, or weekend warriors who have shifted from hotels and air travel to camping? Type B numbers are up the most but they are among the smallest units and the most expensive (per sf, for sure, and often compared to larger units): will that equation result in a flood of used Bs on the market in a year or two?

John Sciortino
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff George

What does YOY Stan for?

Eddie
1 month ago
Reply to  John Sciortino

Year over year

T Edwards
1 month ago

First, I’m not an expert in RV wholesales, but YOY has not caught up with 2019, especially Class A & C. Due to recent high wholesale volumes, the RV industry is rebounding but the market is shifting away from larger motorhomes toward smaller TT’s, Class B, and 5er RV units? My other question, is wholesale inventory volume a push (driven by the manufacturers) or pull system driven by the retailers? Are there that many fewer motorhome buyers? What’s the story there?

Eric Ramey
1 month ago

With all of these new RV’s on the road
I “wish” that I had a few million dollars and a few hundred hours!
1-I would invest in an existing campground (and make it bigger) or build one from scratch.
2-I would purchase a vacant strip mall and turn it into an RV Storage/Repair facility

Donald N Wright
1 month ago

Wow, so few popups, truck campers and van campers. No wonder RVTravel doesn’t write about them.No one does anymore.

JayneEB
1 month ago

Still a few TC online “magazines”: TruckCamperMagazine.com and TruckCamperAdventure.com. Lots of good info…