RVing remains popular in South Dakota but local dealers haven’t been immune from the nation’s slumping economy, according to a report by the Argos Leader, Sioux City.
“We’re like most industries,” said Duane Spader, owner of Spader’s RV Center in Sioux Falls. “The motorhomes were very soft. They were down about 30% this year.”
Spader, who works with dealers across the country through Spader Business Management, said that sales of travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers haven’t been as bad. Also, the strong Canadian dollar earlier in the year coaxed many Canadians to buy RVs in the U.S. market, particularly in the upper Midwest.
Spader, who has been in the business for 45 years, said he’s weathered these cycles before. He said 1979 was a far worse downturn, and he’s certain this downturn will give way to better times.
“I think the general consensus is 2009 is going to be soft,” he said. “In 2010, it will come roaring back. Every time we have this softness, the RV industry comes back stronger.”
Nationally, RV shipments were down nearly 27% this year through October, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Association spokesman Kevin Broom said many would-be buyers are unable to get loans because skittish banks have tightened their credit.
“That is the biggest issue,” Broom said. “After that, the next biggest issue is consumer confidence.”
Some dealers have gone out of business and manufacturers have had to shorten work weeks and lay off workers, Broom said.
“I think most are trying to cut back and hold on,” he said.
Dealers in the Midwest haven’t been hit as hard, Spader said. Nor has credit been an issue with his buyers: It has more to do with the overall economy.
He also said sales started to slacken in April and May as fuel prices reached record highs.