Higher gas prices and interest rates may have slowed sales of motorhomes industrywide, but towables and new smaller, fuel-efficient motorized units are doing better than ever, according to a report in the Record Journal, Meriden, Conn.
Connecticut dealers reported that even those who already own motorhomes and trailers are adapting to the costs by taking trips closer to home and staying in one campground for longer periods.
“Our customers are telling us they’re not willing to give up their vacations,” said Christopher Andro, general manager of Hemlock Hill RV Sales and Services in Southington. “If it costs them a few hundred more, they’ll go. A few have said, ‘I don’t go as far,’ ”
Motorhome rentals are also becoming an option for groups and short trips, Andro said. The average cost for a week is about $1,800. At Hemlock Hills, rentals are running considerably higher this year than at the same time last year, he said.
“We’re seeing more who are looking to get into it by renting,” Andro said.
When RV owners calculate their vacations, they’ve already figured out the costs and the new gas prices are an adjustment. “Until the price settles in, everybody has to do the math,” he said. “When someone wants something they figure out how to get it. I had one customer who gave up smoking.”
An independent study conducted by Pannell Kerr Forster, and paid for by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), found that a family of four can spend 26% to 74% less on RV trips compared to other vacation types due to significant savings on air, hotels and restaurant cost. The study also reported fuel prices would need to triple from their current level to make motoring more expensive for a family of four than other forms of travel.
Although the Memorial Day travel statistics haven’t been released, AAA predicts that people are going to be traveling. Fran Mayko, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Chapter of AAA, said that increased gas prices would typically add $50 to $60 and vacationers would cut back elsewhere.
“Higher prices may force folks to modify plans, not ditch them,” she said. “They may not eat the expensive meal.”
At Custom Camper Inc. in Southington, which only sells towables, Susan Orofino said most of her customers are staying in New England, with a possible trip to Florida. But she said the company is seeing one of its best years yet.
“We’ve sold more than we sold up to this point last year,” Orofino said.