The retail market for RVs was weak prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and a group of 45 dealers who were surveyed recently believe the attacks will postpone the industry’s recovery until “well into 2002,” according to the A.G. Edwards & Sons investment firm.

However, a high percentage of the dealers surveyed by the Edwards firm feel their inventories are low and that they would “substantially increase” their new unit inventories “once RV demand rebounds in any meaningful way.”

The Edwards firm surveyed the 45 dealers from around the country more than a week after the terrorists attacks and those dealers “collectively reported a 25% decline in unit sales (after Sept. 11),” according to Craig Clark, the Edwards firm associate analyst who gathered the information.

“Most felt demand would suffer for at least several weeks and more likely for a full one or two months before returning to more normal levels,” Clark wrote. “Any type of industry rebound will now be pushed further off into the future and probably will not begin until sometime in 2002.”

However, 42% of the dealers surveyed felt they had low new-unit inventories and 47% believed they had low used-unit inventories. “As a result, the vast majority stated that they will need to increase new inventory levels once RV demand rebounds.

“Almost 85% of our survey participants indicated that they will replace units that they sell on a one-for-one basis, or even greater, going forward,” Clark continued. “Wholesale shipments should closely track retail sales going forward and eventually surpass them once RV demand noticeably picks up.”

In terms of product offerings, the dealers surveyed said, “Consumers continue to demand slideout features as their most important option,” according to Clark. There has been “much interest” in triple slideout units and diesel pushers that are “fully-loaded with many extras” continue to be in demand, he added.