Organizers of the 2019 Ohio RV Supershow at the Ohio I-X Center in Cleveland — one of the year’s first key RV shows — reported that attendance for the Jan. 9-13 event set record numbers for the venue. The show is billed as the largest indoor RV show in America and this year earned its reputation with an estimated gate of 50,000.
“This was a great show,” said Amy Girton, media relations specialist for the Cleveland Ohio I-X Center. “We are still compiling numbers but we did have our highest attendance ever on Saturday (Jan. 12). We also think this was one of the highest attendance marks ever for a show, so it is pretty exciting.”
Bob Pastore, Great Lakes RV Dealers Association (GLRVA) chairman and president of Hartville RV, Hartville, Ohio, confirmed the record-setting gate.
“Everyone that I had talked to said the attendance at the early shows was slightly down,” he said. “But obviously, we did not experience that. Our attendance was up 16%. We housed around 700 units indoors — it is the largest indoor show. Our dealership had numbers that were up over last year. This is our 43rd year of the show and to have attendance records for the facility that break four-plus decades is huge.”
He said the ticket sales at the gate numbered nearly 40,000 attendees with online ticket sales expected to surpass the 50,000 mark in attendance for the five days.
Pastore pointed out that the event has become an industrywide gauge of the first-quarter economy with executives from many of the largest RV manufacturing names in the business in attendance.
“It’s such a big industry show for the rest of the country,” he said. “(Camping World Chairman and CEO) Marcus Lemonis visited us on Wednesday of the show. The rest of the country has shows in February through April and this show takes the pulse at the beginning of the year.”
All Seasons RV, Streetsboro, Ohio, was one of the largest exhibitors at the show with 54 RVs on-site. Don Eyerman, salesman for All Seasons, said the show may eclipse their 2018 numbers.
“We did very well,” he said. “Last year was our record year and we are very close to a record again. We did not see as many entry-level buyers as we have in the past. We were seeing about 30% retirement age and the majority were current owners looking to upgrade.”
“I’m a real numbers geek,” said Pastore. “I do defiantly think that the Baby Boomer controls our product sales as a whole. I would say that the product education level of the consumer at this show was extremely high. This generally is not an entry-level shopper.”
He added, “We did take a decent amount of trade-in product which means they are already in the lifestyle. But the entry level, Gen Z and X were present and looking.”
Consumers at the show were not backing away from bigger ticket RVs. Eyerman said that the Forest River Sabre fifth-wheel, ranging in price from $45,000 to $60,000-plus, as a hot-selling brand at the show.
“The phones are ringing here like crazy,” he said from the showroom Monday morning after the show. “We’ve had four or five customers come in today. We are getting multiple e-mails. This is going to really kick-start our year that looks like it’s going to be fantastic.”
“I did not see any correlation of small, medium, large product sales or any expensive, or cheap sales trend,” concluded Pastore. “I mean sales were good across the board. We do graphs of bunk models for families and information like that, and I did not see any surge. The only thing I can say is that our dealership did see an increase in fifth-wheel sales.”