Despite worries before and during the early stages of the war in Iraq, the retail market for RVs experienced virtually no “CNN effect” in Utah, according to several dealers interviewed recently by The Salt Lake Tribune.
The CNN effect refers to a virtual halt in retail activity when a major news event is in progress and many peope follow the event closely on TV news. But at the Motor Sportsland dealership in Murray, which The Tribune believes is Utah’s highest volume RV dealer, General Manager Kent Richards said, “Business has been excellent. We had our best year ever last year. A lot of people are staying home and seeing the advantages of the RV lifestyle.”
Barber Brothers RV in Woods Cross had a similar experience, according to George Sygnatowicz, new car manager.
“In April, we sold almost 100% more RVs than in April last year,” he said. “The (RV sales) traffic is almost as high as on cars and trucks combined.”
Longer-term financing and lower interest rates have reduced monthly payments to affordable ranges, often around $250 per month, which has been a great help to RV sales, Sygnatowicz said.
Additionally, fuel prices, which are trending lower after climbing sharply higher before the war in Iraq, still are low enough, when adjusted for inflation, to have no deterrent effect on RV sales, he said.
Meanwhile, at Sundance RV in Vernal, owner Wayne Merrill described his business as “healthy, but I would not say it’s booming. We’re ahead of last year, and in a stalled economy, that’s pretty good.”
However, despite the encouraging dealership sales figures, several Utah RV park operators told The Tribune they experienced a sluggish start to the travel season.
At Shady Acres RV Park in Green River, campground employee Nancy Wright said spring was “a little slower because of the war, but now things are on schedule. … A lot of people are going to the national parks … and I see more families.”
But up north in Snowville, Lottie-Dell Campground owner Delbert Olsen said this year “has been dismal so far,” enough that he has brought in some all-terrain vehicles to attract customers.
Although the Broken Bow RV Camp in Escalante had a good Easter weekend, co-owner Ava Ivie said fewer European visitors has left this year “only fair. But it’s been very slow the past three years.”
To the west, in Hurricane, Willowind RV Park manager Sunny Bouck said the numbers of snowbirds passing through on their annual winter migration to the warm south was “a little better” than in past years, and hopes are high for a good summer.