Restrictions on international travel along with social distancing guidelines during the pandemic led more travelers to purchase RVs during the quarantine months. Even now, as the number of COVID-19 cases eases, sales remain brisk, causing shortages for dealers.
J and A Camper Sales in Brusly would normally sell five campers in a span of two months, says Ashlyn Young, who works in the business’s sales and service department. Since May 5, it has sold 15.
The RV industry rose in mid-April 2020, Jeff Hilliard, owner of Miller’s RV in Baton Rouge says, and demand has never been higher.
The majority of buyers want RVs for traditional use, he says, but he has seen a few customers who now work remotely and decided to sell their houses and travel in their RVs. Others took advantage of the hot housing market, he says, and are living in their new RVs until they can buy a new house.
Many buyers are adding in nicer features, Hilliard says, including cell and Wi-Fi boosters and satellite systems.
For Berryland Campers in Holden, business began increasing in March 2020, inventory manager Brad Poche says, and remains strong, something he attributes to people being unable to travel outside the country or go on cruise ships.
“We’re selling everything,” Poche says. “We’ve had an increase in sales across the board.”
However, with demand so high, dealers are now facing what many other industries have had to deal with—a shortage of inventory.
A noticeable shortage developed soon after demand increased, Hilliard says. While he still has a good number of RVs coming to his lot through January, anything ordered from now on will be on backorder until February.
Hilliard says the RV shortage originated with plants shutting down and there are currently thousands of units sitting in factory lots waiting for necessary components.
Towable camper supply has kept up with demand, Poche says, but motor home supply has become a bit more challenging. However, the dealers see RV demand continuing, even as travel restrictions loosen. There have been spikes of business in the past due to hurricanes and other disasters that left people looking for a temporary home, Hilliard says, but these recent customers are buying to travel, and they may find it more enjoyable and affordable than other methods of transportation.