National shipments of recreational park trailers were up nearly 15% during the first quarter, in part due to a sharp increase in consumer demand for affordable vacation cottages, according to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
“The recreational park trailer business has become one of the fastest growing segments of the RV industry, thanks to the rising cost of real estate and Americans’ seemingly insatiable demand for weekend retreats,” said William Garpow, a 30-year RV industry veteran who serves as RPTIA’s executive director.
According to a press release, RPTIA reported 2,400 wholesale shipments during January, February and March of this year, compared to 2,100 shipments during the same period a year earlier.
The 2005 statistics are significant, Garpow said, because they indicate that park trailer manufacturers and their dealers are selling units at a pace that will likely eclipse last year’s production figures, which were the highest in the history of the park model business.
RPTIA reported 9,186 park trailer shipments during calendar 2004, up 30% from the 7,074 shipments reported during the same period in 2003. Previously, RPTIA reported 7,363 shipments in 2002; 7,388 in 2001; 8,343 in 2000; and 8,161 in 1999.
Garpow said the high volume of recreational park trailer or “park model” shipments reflects rising real estate prices, which are prompting record numbers of consumers to look for more affordable vacation dwellings.
Some of the larger chains in the campground business, including Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems, which franchises the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts, and Frisco, Texas-based Thousand Trails Inc., are also boosting their supplies of park models this year, primarily to accommodate travelers who do not have RVs but want to enjoy a campground or RV resort setting.
“They’re definitely in demand with campers,” said Mike Gast, director of communications for KOA, which has about 60 park models among its more than 470 locations across North America, adding, “I think you’ll see a nice steady growth in (the park model) business for some time.”