As we head further into 2017, many things are uncertain but one thing is for sure: RV manufacturers and dealers are happy campers indeed.
The Detroit News reported that nationwide, the motorhome, trailer and campground industry is coming off its best sales year in four decades — and envisions even more consumers driving away in trailers and motorhomes in 2017.
“Total sales in 2016 were more than 400,000 units — I get a chill just saying that,” said Bill Sheffer, executive director of the Okemos-based Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC).
The trade group puts on several camper shows each year in Michigan, including the Detroit Camper & RV Show starting next week at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, and they’re hopeful for an enthusiastic, checkbook-in-hand crowd. Sheffer said that in the few brief weeks since the season kicked off, he has been hearing from promoters about record attendance at RV expos in Michigan and Florida.
Having struggled through the Great Recession — when U.S. sales dipped to about 165,000 and many dealers folded for good — the industry is basking in the rebound. The national Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) projects that 438,000 units will ship this year, and its recent economic study says that alone will drive about $16 billion into the U.S. economy. Add in service, campground revenue and other related spending and the total economic boost, the association says, is about $27 billion a year.
Michigan — one of the incubators of the RV, dating to the Covered Wagon Co. founded in Mount Clemens 1929 — comes in for its share of economic bounty. More than 4,200 workers here contribute to the RV and campground industry, earning more than $200 million a year. Michigan is home to 105 RV dealerships, according to the RVIA, and including ancillary businesses, total economic impact in the state is more than $1 billion a year.
Dave Rochette, president of Westland Camping Center, doesn’t want to jinx anything by being overconfident. But, he says, encouraging signals of an upbeat 2017 are falling into place. Last fall’s RV show was Westland Camping’s best in years, and December was their strongest December ever.
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