COVID-19

RV sales are up amid pandemic travel limitations

Andy Uhler Nov 25, 2020
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The RV industry is having a hard time keeping up with demand, partly because RV makers were forced to shut down for a while in the early days of the pandemic. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
COVID-19

RV sales are up amid pandemic travel limitations

Andy Uhler Nov 25, 2020
Heard on:
The RV industry is having a hard time keeping up with demand, partly because RV makers were forced to shut down for a while in the early days of the pandemic. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
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Thirty-two-year-old Kira Pickens is the proud owner of a brand new, $12,000 camper. She and her husband Ryan tow it behind their Toyota Tacoma when they want to get out of Austin, Texas.

“It’s just a little pop-up. So, instead of like the canvas pop-ups that get wider, it just kind of pops up to like an A-frame,” Pickens said.

She said they’d been talking about getting an RV for a while and decided to make it a Christmas present to each other last year.

“We got it in January,” she said. “And then, it’s like, come March and April, it became a boom where everybody was getting one. So I’m kind of actually really glad we got it before that.”

RV prices have been rising during the pandemic.

Monika Geraci with the RV Industry Association said sellers first noticed something going on in the spring, which is already normally a good time for RV sales.

“But it became clear very quickly that this was not pent up demand,” Geraci said. “These were new people who had either maybe considered RV-ing, but this was what pushed them over the edge, or a lot of people who had never considered RV-ing now were looking for a way to get out and travel.”

It kind of makes sense. Over the summer, lots of folks didn’t go on vacation and stay in hotels. Instead, a lot of people bought RVs.

Geraci said suppliers are seeing a big increase in first-time buyers who are overwhelmingly buying cheaper, towable RVs. Shipments of those units are up more than 35% from a year ago.

In fact, the industry is having a hard time keeping up with demand.

Colin Duffy sells RVs at Camper Clinic just south of Austin, and said he can’t order enough units from manufacturers. That’s partly because RV makers were forced to shut down for a while in the early days of the pandemic.

“So what happened was the factories shut down for 45 days for all of these different brands,” Duffy said. “And the dealerships sold off of what their existing lots had.”

And while new buyers are snapping up the RVs they can find at dealerships, not all of these RV converts are in it for the long haul. Industry observers are expecting a strong used RV market to develop on the other side of the pandemic. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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