The Numbers Are In

The RVIA numbers for June were a wee bit late coming in. Granted, most people worry more about their next trip to the grocery store and the possibility of getting infected by the virus than they worry about the state of the RV industry.

Shocking, I know.

For months now, some of us, well, possibly just me, have been reading the headlines about record RV sales:

The headlines seem to be at odds with industry output and revenue. Revenues were, to put it mildly, down the Dometic 8500.

Monthly shipments fell off a cliff. In May, sales of Class A motorcoaches plummeted by almost 42 percent from May of 2019. The entire industry shipped 25 percent less product. Hardly surprising given the shutdown of the economy.

Are things looking any better?

The numbers for June are decidedly mixed unless you are into vans and folding camper trailers. Output literally exploded. Last June the industry shipped 255 vans. This June? 485! An increase of 90 percent!

I will leave it with you to decide if a couple of hundred extra vans hitting the market constitutes record RV sales but let’s take a stroll through the data. It won’t hurt. I promise.

This is what things looked like last year. Before COVID-19. When the world was normal and you could do things like go shopping without a mask.

2019 was a good year for the industry. Output was higher than 2018.

Midway through 2020, the picture is not quite so encouraging.

Before COVID began to take hold, the numbers for January suggested another strong year. After that? Well, quite the blow. The low point being in April, roughly the same time that the media started telling me that 2020 would be the year of the RV.

Manufacturers were slowly ramping up production and last month they did ship more units than in May. Overall? It must be a sinking feeling to see the peak buying season begin to evaporate. Here is hoping that the second half is better for the industry.

Good news or bad news first?

Okay, the good news. If you are building camper cans, there has been a dramatic surge in output. Up 90 percent from last June and up 42 percent year-to-date! RVs are really selling like hotcakes. Oh wait. It was only a few hundred more van campers. Not exactly a tsunami of new van lifers hitting the road.

On a year-to-date basis, the RV industry is down 19 percent. Class A motorcoaches were down 20 percent from last June and down 39 percent year-to-date over last year.

Not surprising. The industry is only just getting back on its feet.

The pandemic has legs and it looks like it will continue to drag the economy and travel and tourism in particular for much longer than most of us initially imagined. Will a second wave of COVID-19 arrive and push governments to impose harsher lockdown measures?

This is not the year of the RV.

This is the year of COVID-19.

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