Newspaper: Sales, Prices of RVs Nearing All-Time Highs

OXFORD, Maine — Interest rates are up, fuel and diesel prices are near record levels and inflation fears are real and growing. Yet, one sector of the economy is still booming — sales of new and used recreational vehicles, or RV’s, according to reporting by Christopher Wheelock at the Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal.

“People are still buying,” was the unhesitant response from Rick Emmert, sales manager at Call of the Wild RV Center in Oxford.

The March 2022 shipment report from the RV Industry Association shows 64,454 units were shipped, an increase of 18.7% over March 2021, when 54,291 units shipped. The association does not offer membership to RV dealers, instead, its focus is on manufacturers, suppliers and RV aftermarket companies. The forecast for RV sales for 2022 points to a second best year in the industry, according to the quarterly forecast prepared by ITR Economics for the RV Industry Association.

Craig Kirby, president and chief executive officer of the association, said, “consumers continue to desire ways to get out and experience an active outdoor lifestyle.”

“Crazy” is how Emmert describes the situation. “We’ve had to learn to sell a different way. Before you had a lot of inventory,” referring to the pre-pandemic days. “Inventory’s been a huge challenge across the board. What normally would have taken four to six weeks if I had ordered you a trailer, now it can take as long as a year.”

Of course, if the travel trailer or motor home you want is on the lot, grab it quickly.

At Mountain Road RV in Sabattus, general manager Abbie Sullivan is experiencing a very different situation. “Compared to last year, it’s definitely slower, I don’t know why.”

Sullivan was quick to point to rising gas prices as the culprit. She feels her customers are feeling the pinch and that higher gas prices are scaring people away. She added that getting new inventory last year was a challenge, so they had to rely on used RVs to generate sales. This year, the dealership has some new models on the lot but they are not selling, forcing them to once again rely on used sales.

Emmett said he is selling more RVs over the phone than he ever used to. Customers can choose what they want online, take a virtual tour, compare prices and even locate where the unit they want is available.

“We’ve had customers from Puerto Rico, California, Missouri and Florida buy on the phone,” Emmett explained. “Then they fly up here and drive away.”

Travel trailers are lined up at Call of the Wild RV Center in Oxford. Inventory has been a challenge, sales manager Rick Emmert said. Customers can wait up to a year for a specific model. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal
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If you are in the market for a new RV this year, Bob Zagami, executive director of the New England RV Dealers Association, predicts discounting is just around the corner. “When gas prices and inflation started to rise in the past few months, some of the mega dealers canceled major orders.”

To explain, there are five “mega” RV dealers in the country, meaning they have 100 or more locations with massive showrooms and lots, and the ability to order tens of thousands of RV’s at a time. Zagami says that’s exactly what happened last year, as manufacturers could not meet the demand for new units.

See the complete Sun Journal report by clicking here.