In 2020, total RV shipments totaled approximately 430,000. A year later, that number increased to over 600,000. Travel trailers led the way, and the entire class of towable RVs accounted for over 544,000 of those shipments. But are RV manufacturers still producing these record numbers of RVs or is the RV boom over?
During 2022, we started to see a decrease in shipments and sales. So are trends changing? Let’s find out.
Why Has RVing Become So Popular?
RVing has become increasingly popular over the last decade but even more so in the previous three years. When safety precautions were put in place for the sake of public health, many Americans found themselves cooped up in their homes with nowhere to go. They were eager to get outside and explore.
When hotels and cruise lines had to close their doors, Americans turned to RVing. It became one of the safest ways to travel and gave people an escape from the realities of life at the time.
But as the world has returned to some semblance of normalcy, those who took to the campgrounds have continued to do so. A new love for nature, national parks, and quality time with family have emerged.
Is the RV Boom Over?
The skyrocketing sales have slowed, and the RV manufacturers have replenished dealer lots. Manufacturers are filling backorders, and inventory is increasing all over the country.
At some points over the last couple of years, dealers had empty lots and prospective buyers waiting for six months or longer for a new RV.
Inflation and high fuel costs across the country have also slowed down RV travel. The housing market is slowly returning to a new normal, and children are back in schools.
All of these factors contributed to the explosion of RV purchases. So it’s safe to say the RV boom is over, but the industry is still moving forward.
Before you buy, make sure you know these 3 Most Important Things When Buying an RV.
Is the RV Industry Slowing Down?
Sales have slowed. According to the RV Industry Association, monthly RV shipments for November 2022 were down 50% compared to monthly RV shipments for November 2021.
For the entire 2022 year, shipments decreased by about 15%, with the largest decrease among travel trailers. However, shipments for truck campers and Class B camper vans increased in 2022. Even with reduced sales, the RV industry isn’t going away.
RVIA President and CEO Craig Kirby said, “RV shipments are continuing to normalize off of last year’s record numbers, and 2022 is looking to be the third highest year for RV shipments, in spite of challenging macroeconomic factors impacting the industry and economy at large.”
Are People Still Buying RVs?
There are still plenty of people hitting the road. With online schooling and remote work opportunities, families choose to spend more time together. Many young adults put careers on hold and explore the world.
The housing market in some locations is still sky-high. It’s not affordable to purchase a house or even rent an apartment in some U.S. cities.
Kirby explains how these new demographics help to sustain the RV industry even as sales slow down: “The long-term health of the industry remains strong thanks to the droves of younger and more diverse buyers who have entered the RV lifestyle over the past few years.”
But even for people not traveling long-term in an RV, campgrounds remain crowded. Americans still choose to explore outside and vacation close to home to save money.
The weekend warriors are still enjoying this lifestyle. Forecasts project 2023 RV shipments to fall under 400,000 units, which would be about a 20% decline from 2022. But that’s still 400,000 new units heading to dealer lots and Americans’ driveways.
Is It Financially Smart to Buy an RV?
An RV is not a smart investment. As soon as a new RV leaves the lot, it immediately loses value. Unlike houses that appreciate over time, most RVs depreciate substantially.
Some brands like Airstream retain their value longer, but generally, any RV will depreciate.
However, RVing can be cheaper than other types of travel. But it can also be just as expensive. It really depends on your lifestyle.
If you want to stay at the nicest RV resorts with full amenities, you’ll pay hotel-like prices. But if you stay in state parks or boondock for free on BLM land, you can save money on overnight accommodations.
Additional costs such as maintenance and repairs, attractions, food, and fuel all add up. It’s not just overnight stays that cost money when RVing.
Depending on whether or not you eat out a lot, how often you visit amusement parks and museums, and how many miles you rack up will greatly affect the cost of RVing.
Many have a hard time deciding whether or not to sell their house and live full-time in an RV. Is it financially smart? Probably not.
But if you choose the RV lifestyle, you’re not basing your decision on money. You likely want to explore, make memories, and cherish time spent with family.
Why Do People Quit the RV Life?
Traveling in an RV can be exhausting. From planning and making reservations well in advance to the upkeep and repair of the RV, it’s not surprising that so many people give it up after a year or two.
Additionally, RVs aren’t super well-made. So you often always have something that needs fixing. Travel days can be stressful with traffic, narrow roads, and construction.
Sometimes people decide that it’s better to just settle down in a sticks-and-bricks house.
Is It a Good Time to Buy an RV?
If you want to purchase an RV soon, expect to pay top dollar for most models still. Although RV shipments and sales are decreasing, the prices aren’t.
You may find a used RV for a better deal. But if you really want to connect with nature and spend more time with your family, there’s no bad time to buy an RV.
Those moments are priceless and worth it to venture out and see the world in a home on wheels.
Will you be buying a new RV soon?
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