During the height of the COVID pandemic, the RV industry couldn’t keep up with demand. Folks took social distancing to the limit by purchasing all manner of motorhomes and camper trailers, but that’s not the case these days. Data from the RV Industry Association (RVIA) shows sales across the board are way down through the first half of 2023 – with one interesting exception.
By across the board, we’re talking about various classifications of motorhomes, travel trailers, and pickup truck toppers. Travel trailers have suffered the worst, showing a year-over-year drop of 53.9 percent. That covers standard towable and large fifth-wheel campers, but RVIA breaks out the fifth-wheelers separately to show a 50.9-percent drop in just that group. Trailers with folding segments are down 31 percent, and truck campers (included in the trailer group) are down 33.8 percent.
To offer some context for the percentages, actual sales of towable RVs through June 2023 totaled 105,975 units. At this time last year, it was 228,740.
News is better when it comes to motorhomes, but not by much. Overall sales for all three categories (Class A, B, and C) are down 17 percent. As with the trailers, the big boys (Class A) are falling hardest at 34.1 percent. These are coach-style RVs usually built on bus or semi-truck platforms, but the smallest Class B van-based RVs are also down nearly as much, at 29.1 percent. Looking beyond the percentages, 5,500 Class A rigs were sold through June this year, compared to 8,340 last year. Class B motorhomes found more buyers at 6,758 units, but that’s down from 9,526 through the first half of 2022.
And then we get to Class C motorhomes, the outlier in this tumbling trend. These are also van-based vehicles but sized between the B and C categories. Sales through June 2023 are actually up a small amount, 2.9 percent to be exact. They are the most popular rigs in the new motorhome world, clocking 13,235 sales versus 12,863 last year at this time.
The RVIA doesn’t offer a clear reason for the decline in sales. The organization does believe sales will recover in the second half of the year, citing an increase in consumer confidence. A report from Reuters highlights the post-pandemic world as the beginning of trouble for RV sales, combined with high interest rates. In any case, this year’s RV sales falloff could rival that of the financial crisis from 2007-2008.