The state of the RV industry post-pandemic has changed. Whether you’re an avid RV enthusiast or in the RV industry as a service pro, then you know that the RV industry received a big boost during the pandemic. As Covid made traveling via plane and staying at hotels risky, many travelers turned to RVing as a way to see the country while also social distancing and minimizing potential exposure to the virus. RV rentals were up, as were RV sales, leading to unprecedented demand from RV manufacturers and service pros alike.
However, now, many — both travelers and service pros — are “returning to normal.” But what does this post-pandemic “normal” look like for the RV industry? Here’s what the experts expect.
The RV Industry’s Banner Last Few Years — Will It Continue?
According to the RV Industry Association, 2020 RV shipments surpassed 2019 shipments by 6%, with a record-setting December. In 2020, the RV industry shipped more than 430,000 units.
In 2021, record-breaking shipment numbers appeared again, with a whopping 600,000 units shipped, surpassing the previous best RV industry year on record, 2017, which saw 504,000 units shipped.
So what’s 2022 look like thus far?
As of the latest RV Industry Association monthly survey, for July 2022, shipments are down for the month, compared to July 2021, by 33.4%. However, overall, for the year, shipments are up 2.5%, compared to the same point in 2021.
As RV Industry Association president and CEO Craig Kirby noted, this month-to-month decrease, but overall annual increase, falls in line with the association’s earlier predictions that the first half of 2022 would be strong, but then there would be a decrease in the second half of the year.
Still, even with that late-year decrease, Kirby assures that the association expects 2022 to continue the last few years’ trend of being one of the best overall shipment years for the industry.
Who’s RVing Right Now?
So who’s buying all those new RVs and what does that mean to the state of the RV industry post-pandemic?
As of 2021, Go RVing's RV Owner Demographic Profile Study found that the RV lifestyle is continuing to attract younger and younger travelers, with more than half of RV owners being under 55 years old, and nearly a fourth of RV owners now being under 35 years old, with 84% of those RVers under 35 planning to buy another RV in the next five years. About a third of all study respondents, regardless of age, said that they were first-time RV owners.
The study estimated, as of last year, more than 11 million households in America own an RV, about a 62% increase over 2001 and a 26% increase over 2011.
The Go RVing study didn't just look at who is buying RVs right now, though; it also looked at exactly why those newcomers to the industry are buying. Many of the study’s responses were related to the Covid pandemic, but others noted important factors such as the large amount of control RVing gives vacationers over their itinerary, the ability to pack however/whatever they want, and the ability to bring pets along for the journey.
Are Supply Chain Issues Still a Problem?
Of course, all those new RVers and demand for new RVs, while great for the industry, can cause problems. Like many industries over the pandemic, the RV industry felt its fair share of supply chain difficulties.
Those difficulties, however, the RV Industry Association predicts, are in the rearview mirror as of earlier this year. Even with those early supply chain issues, the Association said the lion’s share of issues occurred when RVers requested specialty customizations or needed repairs that required specific delayed parts.
What's Ahead for the RV Industry Post-Pandemic?
Largely, the state of the RV industry post-pandemic seems to be looking at the coming months and years with positive expectations. While we might not see the booming demand for new RVs that we noticed over the pandemic, it seems that many travelers took the pandemic as an opportunity to realize all the benefits the RV lifestyle can offer, regardless of world events, and they’re here to stay.
For 2023 specifically, the RV Industry Association is forecasting shipments of around 409,000 to 429,000 units, which would be a 16% decline over the projected 2022 year-end total, but that would still be in line with the 10-year average for the industry, and, the association says, “considerably” above the last 20 to 30 years. The decline, the association noted, could be attributed to inflation, high interest rates and other factors putting the economic crunch on buyers who may now need to postpone their next RV purchase.
How can My RV Resource help?
If you’re an RV service provider, make sure you sign up for a company listing on My RV Resource, where we nurture a community of RV enthusiasts and RV-related business owners.
If you’re an RV enthusiast, become a member today so you can use advanced filters to find RV service providers all across the US (and even a few in Canada).
We’d also appreciate it if you would suggest companies that should be added to our directory and share reviews directly on the company’s listing pages. It’ll help everyone in the long run!