Posts Tagged ‘RV makers’

Forest River Surveyor Travel Trailer

Forest River Surveyor Travel Trailer

After slumping during the recession, sales of recreational vehicles are on the rise as U.S. consumers give in to the lure of the open road — with amenities — and are once again able to get credit to buy what many consider an affordable second home.

Sales of RVs, which include travel trailers and motor homes, have been rising since 2010, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Today, RV owners number nearly 9 million in the United States — a record.

The increase comes thanks to more available credit, growing interest in RV travel, and a push by RV makers to load up the vacation homes on wheels with high-tech extras, the Reston, Va.-based association said.

And many people are just fed up with traditional travel hassles.

“We’re seeing a lot of first-time buyers who have traveled other ways and are tired of the air travel or questionable accommodations when they get where they’re going,” said Greg Merkel, owner and president of Leo’s Vacation Center in Gambrills.

Wholesale sales of RVs, which reached a 30-year high in 2006, began falling off the following year, hurt by plummeting consumer confidence and the tightening of credit markets, said Kevin Broom, a spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

Sales from manufacturers to dealers dropped sharply in 2008 and 2009, the group says.

“RVs are discretionary purchases that are primarily financed,” Broom said, adding that would-be RV owners could not buy even if they wanted to during the credit crunch.

That has changed. National sales rose 4 percent last year, to more than 252,000 RVs, and are projected to grow as much as 6 percent this year.

About 90 percent of RVs sold are travel trailers, which cost about $35,000 on average and require towing. The rest are pricier motor homes.

“That’s incremental, steady growth, and what we anticipate happening is this steady growth,” Broom said. “There’s a substantial savings in RV travel, even including the purchase and ownership,” because RV travelers — who pay about $35 per night at campgrounds — can forgo hotel, restaurant and airfare costs.

“People want to get out and spend time with family and want the outdoor experience,” Broom said. “But they want comfort.”

Sales at Chesaco RV in Joppa are up more than 20 percent this year over last, general manager Rob Lentz said.

“Truly it’s a lifestyle choice to some degree,” Lentz said of the demand for RVs. “This is something people enjoy doing.”

RV owners, he said, share “a really strong feeling of community and loyalty.”

This year, the dealer, which also has locations in Gambrills and Frederick, has seen a bump in sales of travel trailers in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, Lentz said.

Financing with lower interest rates has helped sales, he said, adding that the interest on vehicles counted as second homes is tax-deductible.

Manufacturers, too, are trying to win over buyers by including more amenities, such as high-end audio and video systems, a homier feel in decor, upgrades in kitchens and bath designs, new floor plans — and power-everything, including the awnings, he said.

“A lot of the allure with the RV lifestyle is the ability to travel with a lot of the amenities from home, to have your own bed and your own bathroom,” Lentz said.

Some owners store their trailers at their homes and tow them on trips, while others keep a trailer at a permanent site. Some campgrounds will store trailers in the off-season and then tow them to a campsite for the owners.

Linda Abel and her husband, Frank, just bought a 33-foot motor home with full kitchen, bathroom with a standup shower, living room with leather sofa and big-screen TV, and bedroom with two wardrobes and another TV. They traded up after owning travel trailers.

Before their first trailer purchase three years ago, the Perry Hall couple considered buying a permanent vacation home.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – American families are ready to hitch up their trailers and tow the RV industry out of its worst stretch in nearly two decades.

The industry was driven into the ditch last year by the Great Recession. Sales plunged, plants closed and thousands of jobs were cut as orders for recreational vehicles dropped to their worse level since 1991.

Now, RV makers such as Winnebago are starting to turn profits and have begun to hire. And dealers are ordering more RVs for their showrooms. This year, shipments of RVs ranging from entry-level pop-ups to spacious motor homes are expected to hit their highest level since 2007, when the economic downturn began.

The upswing is a sign that somewhat looser credit, stable fuel prices and improved consumer confidence are inspiring Americans to buy more RVs.

Typical RV buyers are people between 35 and 54 with disposable income. They’re starting to buy again, say industry leaders and dealers who convened at a trade show in Louisville this week. But a growing share of RV sales come from families choosing less expensive towable RVs, including folding camping trailers, or pop-ups. Those towables are smaller and cost a fraction of the price of amenity-filled motor homes favored by older travelers.
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