The war in Iraq is not hurting RV sales in the upper Midwest, according to Dan Pearson, president and CEO of PleasureLand RV Centers Inc., a three-location dealership with stores in Minnesota and North Dakota.
“I’m very pleasantly surprised,” said Pearson, whose company operates dealerships in St. Cloud and Anoka, Minn., and in Fargo, N.D. “I expected a three-day CNN-effect and a slow week. But (the week of March 17-22) was incredible, the second-best we’ve had in three years.
“New gas motorized and new tent trailers had been real weak, but they came back real strong” during the week the war began, Pearson added.
In the Northeast, which experienced a severe winter, the first hint of spring coincided with the start of the war, which suggests consumers’ uncertainty about the war was offset by weather-related pent-up demand. But Minnesota experienced a relatively mild winter, so Pearson does not believe the robust sales he experienced were weather-related.
“We had no winter up here at all, you’ve seen the ground all winter,” he said.
The week of March 17-22 wasn’t the only week the firm had robust sales this winter, he said.
“We’re not seeing that war effect at all.”
Unless the war effort goes very badly, Pearson said, RV sales, in terms of units, could increase by 3% to 5% this year, when compared with 2002
.Because several manufacturers have trimmed their product volumes, Pearson believes, product shortages “are a distinct possibility” later this year. However, he said he will not criticize manufacturers for taking a conservative approach.
“You can’t blame a manufacturer for managing his business. It’s a double-edged sword,” he said.