Highlighted by hundreds of RV personnel lined up at the gates to gain entry for Tuesday’s (Jan. 15) Industry Day, all signs are pointing to a successful run for the 34th Florida RV SuperShow as Public Days get underway today and run through Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. (To view a video by RV bloggers Marc and Julie Bennett click here or scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com home page).
The “Tampa Show” is often seen as a barometer for how the retail market will perform through the rest of the year. With favorable weather forecasted, sold-out camping in the adjacent fields and a host of other factors all trending green — including low fuel costs, available access to credit, strong consumer confidence and the continued attraction of the RV lifestyle — this year’s Tampa Show could very well take a run at last year’s record attendance of 73,061.
“We are a bellwether for the industry, and have been for a long time, because of our placement in January. But I really think that the show itself, and the way the manufacturers have supported it, proves an awful lot to us about their confidence in where the industry’s going and what’s going to happen here in the near future,” Lance Wilson, executive director for the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), told RVBUSINESS.com. “I would say that the confidence level is extremely high among the manufacturers and they anticipate very strong retail days out of this show, as they have in the past.”
FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly noted all 850 Super Rally campsites in the adjoining fields have been sold out, as have the 400-some vendor booths. In addition, 1,500 units brought by manufacturers and retailed through dealer partners will be on display on the fairgrounds’ 26 acres of indoor and outdoor display space.
“Right now, everything’s looking great,” Kelly said. “We couldn’t squeeze one more person in here if we had to. We’ve never had that kind of response and are still getting calls, even on opening day, for people that still want to come in. It’s a nice problem to have, but a problem when we have new members that want to come in get booths. Probably about 90% of our booth exhibitors come back and take the same booth year after year. So, it makes it very hard to get new exhibitors into the show.”
Gary Conley, national sales manager for Lance Camper Mfg., a subsidiary of the REV Recreation Group, said the Tampa Show is one of three consumer events the company uses to forecast the year. While the California RV Show and Hershey Show offer insight to the West Coast and Northeast markets, respectively, the Tampa Show draws snowbirds from the East Coast, Midwest and Canada as well as thousands of RVing Floridians.
“So, you get a real cross of what the market is, and this is kind of the tee-off as to what to expect for RVing in the upcoming season,” he said. “I think that being cautiously optimistic is a good place to be. However, fuel prices are low. Interest rates are still relatively low. Money’s still available. The market is still stable, and again, at record highs. So, if you look at all the barometers that kind of affect our industry, all of those things are still in the green, so consumer confidence is still high.”