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Reports varied on the amount of traffic and sales generated at the 56th annual California RV Show at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, when the show opened Friday (Oct. 10) around 2,000 visitors passed through the display areas sporting 1,200 new RVs. Yesterday, Michael Kavanaugh, sales manager at Camping World RV Sales, told the local paper that sales were spotty.
“It’s a little slower traffic-wise,” Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh said that Southern California is feeling the effects of a sluggish housing market and the unwillingness of banks to give loans. Kavanaugh added he was hopeful that by next year, sales would pick up.
Event organizers also reported that the economy was a factor in turnout for the show, which runs through Sunday.
“We won’t have the sales we had last year because of the economy, but we are still doing well,” said Marsha McInnis, the show’s director.
Nick Morgan is among that group. The owner of the RV Ready dealership decided that at this year’s show he would offer only economical vehicles, such as light travel trailers. His plan has paid off.
“I’ve already sold more than all of last year,” he said.
People love going out to play in their RVs, but they might not want to be doing it in a “gas guzzler,” he said.
Sales have been so brisk that he counters the industry “doom-and-gloom” with his own silver lining: “Southern Californians are still going to go out and play,” he said, adding that about 70% of his customers since Friday have been first-time buyers.
It’s playing with their new toys RVs and family times that remain selling points for show organizers and sellers.
“They are a luxury item, but also a vehicle for the family to spend quality time together … the vacation is never, never over,” McInnis said.
And with Americans less likely to travel overseas by plane since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, traveling by RV remains a great way to see the country, Kavanaugh said.
In fact, the Good Sam Club recently reported that despite higher gasoline prices, RV trips remained the least expensive type of vacation, according to one study.
The benefits of RVing were on the minds of longtime RV owners Rita and Harold Duke of Westminster, as they sat inside their HitchHiker II, a roughly 340-foot-square foot trailer that looked more like a luxurious hotel suite.
“Motelin’ sucks,” Harold Duke said.
The Dukes were sitting inside a model that in today’s market might sell in the high $60,000 range, well below the manufacturer’s $80,000 price tag, said Bill Locke, a dealer for Vacation Station.
It was the attraction of a buyers market that drew Dave Sarloos on Monday with the hope of finding a good deal.
“I didn’t see anything super-duper,” he said.