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Tucked away in the Broadbent Arena during last week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., recreational park trailer builders experienced slower traffic this year but remained hopeful about the future of the industry.
“It was a little bit slower,” David Burroughs, North American sales manager for Middlebury, Ind.-based Woodland Park Inc., told the Goshen (Ind.) News. But he said those dealers who made it to the display were “seriously interested” in the products.
“It’s mixed,” Burroughs said. “Some dealers are keeping stocks up and some dealers are letting stock come down. They are waiting to see what happens to the economy.”
One of the positive aspects of the recent downturn in the economy is that interest in buying RVs and park trailers is still there, Burroughs said.
“So when the economy turns we will be in good position,” he said. “But we have to get some confidence (in the economy).”
The industries that are being hit hardest in this downturn are those based on people’s discretionary spending, Burroughs said, including luxury-laden park models. According to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), shipment numbers are off by about 22% so far this year.
However, one manufacturer at the Louisville Show reported having a good sales year. John Soard, general manager for the park model division of Fairmont Homes, Nappanee, Ind., said sales were 6% higher that last year.
“Well, our units are selling,” Soard said. “We have aligned ourselves with some very good dealers. And our units sell.”
But he also recognized this is a difficult year to sell his products. “Manufacturers and dealers alike are all looking for the right way to weather the storm,” he said.
According to the Goshen News, salesmen said that park models are popular with retirees who want to have a second home in the South or on a lake in the North. One advantage is that interest payments can usually be deducted on taxes.
And demographics also remain favorable. RPTIA reported that 57% of buyers are retired, 89% of them are married and the average annual income of buyers is $56,800. The vast majority of the buyers have owned other RVs in the past.