There’s no disputing 2020 was a terrible year for businesses in general – and for the thousands of workers who either lost their jobs or had their hours cut.
But there are exceptions. Many homeowners are remodeling, helped by very low interest rates. That spurs construction jobs and appliance sales. Bicycles have been hard to come by. So, it turns out, have been RVs.
Reports of the sharp increase in demand for RVs hit us dramatically in mid-August, when we drove onto the lot of the RV dealer not far from our Wisconsin property. A lot normally full of vehicles for sale was two thirds empty!
As we checked in, Gary the service manager, assured us they were not going out of business. To the contrary, demand far exceeded the supply of RVs available. In years past, they might have 40 trailers of a specific model on the lot. They had two. When the sales staff got word of a delivery, the vehicles were often sold by the time they arrived.
They were not alone. An RV dealer in Pennsylvania that normally sold 10 units a week was closing sales on 300.
Two things converged to create this boom. First, trailer and motorhome manufactures shut down for about four months when the pandemic hit in March. So, no supply. About the same time, more and more families, decided RV camping was a safe way to get away from home but keep their pod safe from the pandemic – much better than flying or moteling. Hence, a big surge in demand.
A classic example of supply/demand economics.
At Pelican Lake, near Orr, MN, Sept. 13, 2020
We were very happy we had decided to upgrade to a newer used RV last December.
Years ago, we started taking an extended fall tour beginning in late August. The weather is still good and family trips are over because kids are back in school. With schools – elementary to college closed--RV parks – private and public – were still busy. The family-owned campground in Two Harbors, MN, on Lake Superior, we stayed in filled up every night. So did the municipal campground in Grand Marais, also on Lake Superior.
Minnesota was no exception. Across the country, according to industry news stories, demand for campsites jumped dramatically in 2o2o.
Wife Elaine, who does our trip booking, said next year she will have to start sooner to book the reservations we want.
Is this the start of trend or a fluke?
For couples who had been thinking of buying a camper and hitching it behind their pickup and decided to take the plunge, all may go well. Over time, they may even move up to a larger trailer or try a motorhome.
On the other hand, it takes time and, especially initially, a bit of patience to learn the ins and outs of RV life. Like a boat, it seems something always needs maintenance. Keeping one in tiptop shape is not cheap. How many will realize, while it may have been an option to get away from home in 2020, it’s not their cup of tea.
Will there be a glut of used RVs on the market next year or in 2022?