Written by Greg Long
If you’ve been keeping a close eye on RV sales, you know the industry has seen a steady 2-year decline in RV purchases. Amidst panicked voices declaring the end of the RV industry, it’s important to remain calm and examine the reality of these claims to understand what’s really happening in the world of RVs.
At Bish’s RV, with help from our good friend Josh the RV Nerd, we’ve been selling RVs for nearly 40 years. Our experience has given us a look at all kinds of market conditions.
Drawing from what we’ve seen over the last 4 decades and comparing them to what is happening now with RV sales, we hope to provide you with a clear picture of where the industry stands and where it’s headed in 2024.
This month’s RV Industry Update will explore the factors that have shaped the RV industry in 2023 and offer informed predictions for 2024, helping you make the best decisions in an ever-changing market.
By the end of this article, you will know if now is a good time to buy or sell an RV, so you can make the best RV choices for your family in 2024.
Table of Contents
Want to See RV Prices and Availability? Check out New and Used RVs Now!
RV Service Report: Repair Times Remain a Problem in 2023
The RV industry, despite its growth and popularity, has a big problem – the efficiency of RV service. Traditionally, the “repair event cycle time” (RECT) – the amount of time it takes from when an RV is brought in for repair to when it’s returned – has been frustratingly long.
The latest statistics show an average RECT service time of about 41 days. This painstakingly long wait time, what some call “RV jail,” is super frustrating to RV owners, stripping away precious weeks of potential camping and travel time.
BishFix: Because RV Jail is Horrible
Bish’s RV knows long repair times are a big source of frustration to any RV owner who has taken in their RV to be serviced. Reducing repair times is one of our biggest goals for 2023.
We recently launched a new repair service we call “BishFix.” This service aims to drastically reduce RECT repair time with a target turnaround time of less than a week.
The BishFix program includes a team of volunteers providing valuable feedback and insights, helping Bish’s RV refine and enhance our repair processes. While still in its early stages, BishFix is a promising step towards vastly improving RV servicing with quick and easy repair times.
Currently focused on local customers around Bish’s dealership locations, Bish’s RV is open to inputs to expanding BishFix nationwide in 2024.
RV Sales in 2023: A Closer Look at RV Market Conditions
A Dip in RV Sales: Understanding the Numbers
The most recent RV Sales data, as of September 2023, shows a 21% decrease in RV sales compared to September 2022.
RV SALES SEPTEMBER 2023
27,836 Total Sales
RV SALES SEPTEMBER 2022
35,401 Total Sales
MONTHLY RV SALES BY RV TYPE
Ready to Start Searching For Your New Camper?
Total RV Sales in 2023 vs RVs being Manufactured
This decline in RV sales totals is a big drop, bringing the total number of RVs sold in 2023 down to approximately 316,000.
However, only about 238,000 RVs were manufactured in the same period. This disparity has led to a reduction in national RV inventory by around 78,000 units, meaning there are 880,000 fewer RVs on dealership lots compared to 2022.
RV Market Rollercoaster and Rising Interest Rates: A Double-Whammy
The decline in RV sales isn’t just a standalone statistic; it’s deeply affected by RV Market supply and demand – plus rising interest rates. Interest rates don’t only affect customers; they greatly impact dealership operations.
With higher interest rates, the operating costs for RV dealerships have sky-rocketed. Keeping RVs on dealer lots for any extended period of time has become more expensive, adding to the financial strain RV dealers are facing.
This increase in operational costs for RV dealers is similar to the rising costs of living experienced by consumers. Businesses are feeling the stress of rising prices and interest rates, just like you are.
The Bigger Picture: Adapting to RV Market Changes
Understanding these market factors is key to making informed decisions, whether it’s about purchasing an RV or deciding to sell your camper.
The RV industry, like many others, is undergoing a significant transformation, and staying abreast of these changes will be vital for success in this evolving landscape.
RV Shows: Gauging the Health of the RV Industry
RV shows are a good indicator of how good or bad the RV industry is doing.
Looking at a prominent RV show this fall in Tampa, Florida, we can get an idea of what 2024 may look like with RV sales.
Increased Attendance and Strong Sales, but Challenges Loom
This year’s show saw an uptick in attendance compared to last year, signaling a continued interest in RVs. Dealers reported robust sales, indicating a healthy demand for RVs in the market.
However, despite the positive turnout and sales figures, the shadow of rising interest rates loomed large. Dealers and industry experts noted that these increased rates are affecting both consumers and dealerships alike, putting a strain on the economic aspects of RV purchasing.
Lower Prices and Market Uncertainties
An interesting development at the show was the observation that RV prices are on a downward trend. This decrease in prices presents a mixed bag for the market.
It’s neither a definitive buyer’s nor seller’s market, but rather a unique and somewhat uncertain landscape. This price reduction could be seen as a response to the higher interest rates, aiming to balance the overall cost for consumers.
To Buy or Not to Buy an RV- That is the Question
The idea that lower RV prices could offset the impact of higher interest rates was a topic of discussion among attendees. While in theory, paying off a loan early could minimize the effect of high interest rates, this strategy may not be for everyone. If you can’t pay it off early, the interest rates will add a big chunk of money to the overall price you end up paying for your RV.
It’s important to consider the total cost of ownership, including the added interest over time, before making a purchase.
Are you Ready to Buy a camper? Check out availability and Pricing Today.
RV Sales Predictions for 2024: A Balanced Outlook
Moderate Sales with Limited Growth
Gregg Fore, a seasoned expert with nearly two decades of experience in both supplying and reporting on the RV industry, offers his insights into what we might expect in the coming year.
Fore predicts the RV market will continue to see sales but with very little growth in terms of market expansion.
His prediction is based on the belief that many RV buyers made hasty buying decisions during the pandemic, leading to fewer people needing to buy RVs in 2024 since they bought them already during COVID times.
Increased Interest Rates, Decreased RV Inventory
As a result of rising interest rates, dealers cannot afford to have a lot of inventory on their lots. RV Manufacturers are making fewer RVs as a result.
Dealers are currently dealing with approximately 80,000 fewer RVs in stock compared to the previous year.
This reduced inventory level is in line with the prediction that RV shipments are unlikely to reach the 300,000 mark in 2023.
Fore estimates that there will be about 300,000 to 330,000 RV registrations in 2024, a figure that falls short of 2023’s numbers.
Distinguishing RV Shipments from RV Sales
What’s the difference between RV shipments versus RV sales?
RV Shipments: How many RVs are made by RV Manufacturers
RV Sales: How many RVs did dealers sell?
RV Dealers are still working through a surplus of market inventory, which means that even if new RV shipments are down, overall RV sales might be higher than the number of RVs being produced.
Fore expects that RV sales will continue to outpace production in 2024 by approximately 10-15%.
Good News at the Gas Pump: Recent Trends in Fuel Prices
A Gradual Decrease in Fuel Costs
After a period of high prices, fuel costs have been steadily decreasing over the past few months. This trend, though slow, has been consistent and is expected to continue, especially with the recent drop in oil prices.
The current fuel prices have returned to their peak levels in 2021. While this is a positive sign, it’s worth noting that prices are still 37 cents above the national average of the past six years.
State-by-State Trends in Gas Prices
The decrease in gas prices is not uniform across the United States, with variations seen from state to state. Currently, gas prices are falling in 47 out of the 50 states. The exceptions where prices are rising include Delaware, Kentucky, and South Carolina.
When it comes to the highest and lowest gas prices by state, the differences are quite marked:
- Highest Gas Prices: The states experiencing the highest fuel costs are California, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, and Oregon. These states generally have higher prices due to factors like transportation costs, state taxes, and regional supply and demand dynamics.
- Lowest Gas Prices: On the other end of the spectrum, states like Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Oklahoma are enjoying the lowest gas prices. These states benefit from factors such as proximity to oil refineries and lower state fuel taxes.
It’s important for travelers to be mindful of the regional differences in fuel prices. For those planning cross-country trips or long drives, understanding which states have higher or lower fuel prices can help in planning more cost-effective routes
Holiday RVing: A Surge in Travel Plans for the 2023 Season
A Massive Wave of Holiday RV Travelers
Out of an estimated 122 million Americans planning to travel during the holidays, a staggering 20 million are opting to journey in their RVs.
This huge surge represents a big portion of holiday travelers, indicating the growing popularity of RV travel.
The reasons for this spike can be attributed to the flexibility, comfort, and sense of adventure that RV travel offers, along with the ability to maintain a sense of normalcy and home comfort while on the road.
Staying Close to Home
Interestingly, most RV travelers are planning to stay within a 300-mile radius of their home. This trend, which I personally follow as well, reflects the desire for shorter, more manageable trips that still allow for a change of scenery and the enjoyment of the holiday season without the stress of long-distance travel.
Pet-Friendly Travel on the Rise
One notable aspect of this year’s holiday RV travel is the high percentage of RVers planning to bring their pets along.
Approximately 60% of RV travelers intend to travel with their pets, with dogs being the more popular companion (87%) followed by cats (52%).
This makes it clear that most RVers are pet-owners. Let’s face it, our pets are part of the family. We want them with us when we travel.
RV manufacturers should take note of this obvious trend. The demand for pet-friendly features in RVs is apparent, and there’s a big opportunity for manufacturers to offer more features that accommodate our pets while we’re out camping with our families.
Wanting to do some winter camping before 2023 ends?
Check out RVs available to buy before the Holidays.
2024 RV Camping Trends: What’s on the Horizon?
As we move past the holiday season and look towards 2024, the camping and RVing landscape is set for some interesting developments.
Insights from the annual Generational Campground Report shed light on what campers and RV enthusiasts can expect in the coming year.
Changing Demographics and Steady Market
One of the key observations for 2024 is the changing demographics of the camping community. Although the RV market appears to be “steady” or even “stagnant,” the face of RVing is evolving, with a noticeable trend towards younger campers.
This shift could bring about changes in the types of services and amenities campgrounds offer, as well as the marketing strategies of RV and camping-related businesses.
Intentions to “Camp More” in 2024
An overwhelming 94% of campers have reported the intention to camp as much or more in 2024. This statistic is a strong indicator of the increased popularity of camping and suggests that campgrounds and RV parks will continue to see high demand.
As a result, campers may need to plan and book their sites well in advance to secure their preferred dates and locations.
The Role of Technology in Campground Searches
Technology is playing an increasingly significant role in how campers find and book campsites. Over 80% of campers are using search engines to find campgrounds, signaling the importance for campgrounds to have a strong online presence.
This trend also points towards the growing preference for online booking systems, making it easier for campers to find and reserve sites from the comfort of their homes.
Price and Distance: The Primary Concerns in Booking Decisions
Price has emerged as the number one concern for campers when booking sites. This focus on affordability suggests that campgrounds offering competitive pricing or value-added services might attract more campers.
It also indicates that campers are becoming more budget-conscious, possibly due to broader economic factors, like rising prices and interest rates.
The data also shows that campers are willing to travel nearly 180 miles from home to reach a campsite, fitting into the typical three-hour travel window that many find acceptable.
This distance reflects a balance between the desire for a getaway and the practicality of travel time. It poses an interesting question to the readers: How far do you usually travel for a camping site, and at what point is it too far for you?
Hyundai Cars Now Available on Amazon: A Game-Changing Partnership
In what could be a significant shift in the way big-ticket items like cars are purchased, Hyundai has teamed up with Amazon to offer its vehicles on the retail giant’s platform. This innovative move is set to redefine the car buying experience, potentially setting a precedent for other industries, including RVs.
Hyundai-Amazon Collaboration: A New Era in Car Shopping
Hyundai’s partnership with Amazon marks a major milestone in the automotive industry. While customers will still be purchasing from a dealership, they can now use Amazon’s platform to explore and filter available Hyundai car options.
This approach combines the convenience and familiarity of online shopping with the assurance of a dealership purchase.
Companies like Carvana, CarMax, and AutoNation have already been innovating in the online car sales space for years, but it’s clear signal that traditional car sales models are quickly evolving – and major automotive brands are seeking to capitalize on the growing demand for an online sales experience.
Buy an RV Online without dealing with a Sales Person?
This groundbreaking partnership between Hyundai and Amazon raises an intriguing question for the RV industry: Could RVs be next?
The idea of purchasing an RV entirely online, without ever setting foot in a dealership or interacting with salespeople, might appeal to a big segment of consumers.
This mode of purchase would put complete control of the sales process in the hands of the buyer, offering a level of convenience and decision-making previously unseen in the RV market.
With more consumers growing comfortable with making significant purchases online, the RV industry might well consider exploring this avenue. Such a shift could revolutionize how RVs are sold, offering a more streamlined, personalized, and hassle-free buying experience.
Reflecting on 2023 and Looking Ahead to 2024 in the RV Industry
As we wrap up our end-of-year 2023 RV Industry Update, it’s clear that this year has been a year of maintaining a balance between supply and demand.
The past twelve months give us a glimpse into what 2024 might hold. The trends we’ve observed and the patterns we’ve analyzed set the stage for what promises to be another innovative year in the world of RVs.
At Bish’s RV, our success depends on knowing what is going on in the RV industry. Our goal is to empower you to make informed decisions, whether you’re a first-time buyer, a seasoned RVer, or someone considering selling your RV.
As you think about taking the next step in your RV journey, whether buying a new home-on-wheels or selling your current one, Bish’s RV is here to guide you.
Increase Your RV Knowledge
Next Steps For You to Become an RV Expert
- Visit our website for the latest RV models and pre-owned vehicles.
- Schedule a FREE consultation with our RV experts to discuss your specific RV needs and preferences.
- Visit the Bish’s RV Learning Hub for hundreds of articles about RV Prices, Reviews, Problems, Comparisons and Best of Lists.
- Check out Josh the RV Nerd’s RV Review channel.
Articles About the RV Industry
Bish’s RV Content Manager
Amateur adventurer; professional dreamer.
aka: The Bish-Blog-Guy