New 2009 models and surplus 2008 models are jamming the floor of Oregon’s Portland Expo Center this weekend at the annual Portland Fall RV and Van Show.
And, according to a report in the Statesman Journal, Salem, retailers are ready to deal.
“What dealers are saying is that this is going to be a good show to come in and wheel and deal, because inventory is up and sales are down,” said Jim Beriault, the show publicist. “Across the board, any reasonable offer will be taken seriously, whereas three years ago — when the market was just booming, the highest sales ever — you didn’t have as much play or leeway.”
Mike Mendenhall, sales director at Valley RV Center of McMinnville, is one who will be listening to offers at the event, which opens today and runs through Sunday.
“I would tell you that it is a buyer’s market right now,” he said. “This is my 13th year at Valley RV Center, and it’s been real cyclical in those years. But I would say right now, more than any time ever, that is true.”
He agreed with Beriault that inventory levels are higher than normal.
“Dealer inventories are sitting longer this year,” Mendenhall said. “There’s more days in stock on our product, we’re more motivated to move our product, more than we ever have been, and people are getting extremely good deals right now. I think that’s the case in other industries as well — automobiles, boats, those sort of things.”
That coincides with reports from the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey, also running through Sunday, of high traffic and steady sales.
Beriault said the emphasis will be on small, economical trailers and motor homes and on vacations that keep Oregonians close to home.
“Most of the travel clubs are concentrating on that. It’s the national trend,” Beriault said. “People aren’t driving from Oregon to Florida, and that’s what resorts and people like the Good Sam Club are preaching. They’re all marketing themselves as, “Hey, go 100 miles as opposed to1,000 miles, and you can still have a good time.’ What they’re saying is that people aren’t giving up their RVs, they just aren’t using them as long and as far.”
Despite the down market, Mendenhall said he’s been surprised by some sales trends.
“If I’d tried to look at the future I’d have thought we need a bunch of tent trailers and small stuff and light stuff for all these fuel-efficient vehicles to tow,” he said. “But it’s turned out differently for us. Believe it or not, with fuel prices where they are and the way things are in the market, we’ve been selling motor homes, too. We’re selling the small stuff, but it’s not entirely the light stuff that’s selling.”
He says the buyers of the bigger RVs are members of the 50-and-older crowd.
“Younger families that aren’t established, it’s tougher on them,” Mendenhall said. “I’m speculating that the Baby Boomers are buying the larger stuff because they’re pretty much established, and the rising fuel prices and the cost of groceries isn’t impacting them as much.”
Beriault said there’s been a bump in the rental side of the RV business.
“A lot of dealers have rental options,” he said. “Maybe you want to go to the Grand Canyon but you don’t want to buy an RV, so you rent one. The rental side of things is holding its own quite well even though sales are slipping.”