RV Industry Sales and News Report: May 2024

Written by Greg Long

RVs in a sales lot with text, "RV Sales down 8.9%. Will Sales Continue to Drop?"

Keeping Up With Camper Costs

What are the current trends shaping the RV industry? 

Are you curious how gas prices and new national RV laws might affect your upcoming trips?

In our May 2024 RV Industry Sales Report and Industry Update, we provide the latest sales figures, new laws affecting recreational vehicles, gas prices, and campground reviews. 

Keep reading to catch up on the latest trends for the upcoming camping season, so you’re ready to make the best decisions for your upcoming RV adventures.

Watch Josh the RV Nerd’s RV Update Video to get a deep dive Report from Bish’s own RV Expert

Table of Contents

New RV Laws: National and State Legislation

family roasting marshmallows outside thier RV.
New laws will make National Parks more accessible for camping families.

US House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Package

The outdoor recreation industry is making waves, now bringing in a staggering 1.1 trillion dollars each year. (Yes, Trillion with a “T”) That’s 2.2% of our country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

In a historic move, the US House of Representatives passed the EXPLORE Act, a bipartisan effort to enhance outdoor experiences nationwide. 

EXPLORE is an anagram for “EXpanding Public Lands & Outdoor Recreation Experiences

This legislation seeks to improve some of the challenges active RVers have encountered over the years, such as improving access to national parks, allocating funds for park renovations, streamlining permit processes for guides, and expanding recreational-use lands and waters. 

Additionally, it aims to develop and improve trails across the country. 

While the bill still awaits Senate approval to become law, optimism is high for its swift passage.

Let us know what you think!

A judge with a white wig holding a gavel with RVs behind him
As RVing becomes more popular, more states are passing laws specifically for RV Makers and Dealers.

States Are Creating Laws to Protect People When They Buy RVs

Maryland has joined the ranks of states implementing RV-specific franchise laws, further clarifying the roles and responsibilities between RV dealers and manufacturers. 

This move is part of a growing trend, with approximately 17 states now having such laws in place. 

The Maryland bill addresses vital issues like pre-sale RV inspections and warranty procedures, with the goal of providing better service for RV owners across the state.

With more states likely to follow suit, it seems we’re just scratching the surface of legislative developments in the RV industry. 

Some people don’t like the Government stepping in and regulating business transactions. Others feel more secure with government involvement.

What’s your opinion of the government stepping in and regulating the RV industry?

RV Sales Report: Shipments vs. Sales Reality

RV Wholesale Shipment Report

The RV industry is witnessing a surge in wholesale shipments (Meaning RV dealers are buying more RVs expecting increased sales this year) with manufacturers sending more RVs to dealerships compared to previous years. 

This uptick is particularly notable after a period of slowed production in 2023 due to overproduction concerns

Notably, travel trailers are leading the pack in terms of increased shipments, followed closely by fifth wheels. 

However, motorized RV shipments have seen a decline compared to last year, though they remain higher than the figures from 2023.

line graph showing RV shipments have increased in 204

Actual Sales vs. Shipments

While wholesale shipments paint a picture of industry growth, the reality of RV sales tells a different story. 

Recent statistics reveal that actual sales registrations are down by 8.9% year over year. 

Jayco Production plant with added text, "RV Sales are down. Dealers remain optimistic."

RV Sales Report:

  • RV sales registrations are down by 8.9% year over year.

  • Travel trailer registrations have decreased by nearly 1,800 compared to the previous year.

  • THOR and Forest River dominate the travel trailer segment, with THOR holding 40.4% of registrations.

  • Fifth-wheel registrations have also experienced a decline, with THOR leading the sales with 39.8%.

  • Despite increased dealer inventory, sales figures indicate a downturn in consumer purchases.

  • The gap between shipments and sales raises questions about industry health and consumer demand.

This downturn in sales is a big red flag and highlights a concerning gap between shipments and consumer purchases. 

Despite dealers stocking up on affordable towable RVs, sales figures still indicate a decline in consumer interest, with 1,800 fewer travel trailer sales than this same time last year.

THOR and Forest River – Single Companies, Multiple Brands

Thor Industries and Forest River logos-- side by side

While THOR Industries and Forest River make up most of the RV sales, it’s important to keep in mind that these RV manufacturers own multiple lines of campers and all of these are included to make up the sales big numbers.

THOR brands includes Jayco, Keystone, KZ, Starcraft, Dutchmen, and more.

Forest River brands includes Forest River, Rockwood, Coachmen, Palomino and more.

Check Out Thor Industry Brands

See Forest River Brands

Camping Season is about to start.
Now is a good time to buy before prices start their seasonal increase.

RV Shipments vs RV Sales

The difference between RV shipments compared to RVs sold raises questions about the industry’s health and consumer demand. 

Despite manufacturers’ optimism and dealers’ increased inventory, the market seems to be experiencing a slump in actual purchases. 

Speculation about future sales trends, driven by factors like seasonal changes and potential interest rate adjustments, adds even more concerning factors to the equation.  

Keep coming back each month to stay informed. Hopefully, RV sales will catch up to RV shipments, and 2024 will be a year of growth for the RV industry.

Used RV Sales: Used Values on the Decline

When it comes to used RVs, there’s good news and bad news depending on whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or trade. 

People who want to buy a used RV are in a good spot, prices are low and most dealers still have a good selection of used inventory – but if you’re trying to sell your camper or want to trade up for a new one, it’s tougher, as you will get less value for your RV.

Used Travel Trailer and 5th Wheel Values Down from Last Year

Used RV sales Values- line graph showing downward trend. (Travel Trailer and 5th Wheel)

Used Motorhome Values Experienced Big Drops Over Past Year

Used RV Value- Line Graph showing downward trend. (Motorhomes)

Used RV Market Stats & Outlook

  • Used Values have held steady for the past couple of months.

  • Despite the stability in values, the average prices of used RVs have decreased significantly compared to the previous year.

  • This downward trend in used RV prices can be attributed to the pricing dynamics of the new RV market. With new RVs becoming more affordable, the prices of used RVs have had to adjust to remain competitive.

  • The shift towards budget-friendly new RVs has led to a decline in the values of used RVs, making them a great option for first-time buyers and budget-conscious consumers.
RVs in a Campground by a lake

Key Insights & Considerations

  • The average age of used RVs in the towable market hovers around the 2019 model year, presenting an attractive proposition for buyers.

Did you know?

Buyers eyeing used RVs within five model years of the current year may still qualify for same-as-new financing, provided they meet the necessary credit criteria.

Same-as-new financing allows for lower rates and monthly payments.

  • Motorized RVs follow a similar trend of values going up one month and down the next, albeit with less severity than towables. 

  • The average wholesale auction value of motorhomes is notably lower than last year, with a significant portion of inventory consisting of 2015 models.
    • This may be a problem for some people looking to buy a used motorized RV because some campgrounds do not allow campers older than 10 years old to use their sites.

Used RV Prices are at a near all-time low.
Now is a great time to try out the RV Lifestyle with a low-priced used RV.

Panoramic view of Jellystone Park Campground

Campground Costs on the Rise

Campground costs have been steadily climbing in recent years, presenting a challenge for both vacation planners and RV enthusiasts. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Costs Climbing Higher: Just like everything else, campground costs have been on the rise. 
    • Supply and Demand: Since more people are using campgrounds, the prices are rising. 
    • Since 2019, revenues campgrounds like Yogi Bear campgrounds have shot up by 87.4%.
    • While this increase has been accompanied by improvements in facilities and amenities, it’s also led to higher prices for campers.

  • Crowded Campgrounds: Not only are campgrounds becoming more expensive, but they’re also more crowded than ever. 
    • Reservations for campsites have doubled compared to 2020, making it challenging for spontaneous travelers to find available spots. 
    • You may have to book your campground site 6+ months in advance.
    • However, many “fully booked” campgrounds often have no-shows, leaving some space available for last-minute arrivals.
RV Park with huge water Park
RV Campgrounds- Increased Family Fun; Increased Prices

Alternative Campground Options: Bureau of Land Management Public Lands

For those seeking alternatives to traditional campgrounds, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands offer potential solutions:

  • BLM Lands: Staying on BLM lands has become increasingly popular, especially amidst campground congestion. These public lands provide opportunities for remote camping and outdoor adventures away from the crowds.

  • Internet Improvements: The government’s efforts to enhance internet infrastructure on BLM lands could make remote working and connectivity more accessible to RVers. Improved internet access may attract more digital nomads and remote workers to these remote camping locations.
Bureau of Land Management Public Lands- Snow Covered Mountains
BLM Public Lands are becoming more RV Friendly.

Pro-Camping Tip
Check out our Bish’s RV Learning Hub and learn more about The Cost to Stay at RV Parks, RV Campgrounds and National Parks.

Riding the Gas Price Rollercoaster

Steady for Now

Gas prices are holding fairly steady compared to last year, with only a slight recent increase. This stability provides a sense of confidence for many travelers as they plan their summer adventures.

Class A Motorhome at Shell Gas Station pumps

Anticipating Price Jumps

However, various geopolitical tensions and conflicts overseas could potentially disrupt this stability and lead to a rise in fuel costs. These political uncertainties are not only stressful to ones peace of mind, but make planning a vacation difficult.

The Broader Economic Impacts of Gas Prices

It’s important to remember that fuel prices also impact the cost of goods and services across the board. Most things you buy, at some point, are transported in trucks, which require fuel. As such, when gas prices rise, so do the prices of most other things. 

Stay Informed! Knowledge is Power!

Bish's RV Sales Lot in Meridian, Idaho

The RV industry is always changing, always evolving. Understanding the latest sales numbers and trends is important if you plan on buying or selling an RV in the near future.

At Bish’s RV, we’re committed to keeping you up-to-date with the latest news and insights from the RV world. 

Whether you’re in the market for a new RV or looking to sell your current one, understanding the trends can help guide your choices.

3 Steps to Help You Get the Most Out of Your RV Lifestyle:

  1. Check out our inventory: Explore our wide selection of RVs to find the perfect fit for your needs and preferences.
  1. Talk to an RV Outfitter: Our experienced team is here to answer your questions and provide personalized recommendations based on your unique requirements.

3. Stay informed and engaged with the RV community by joining forums, attending RV shows, or following industry news sources.

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Greg Long Bish's RV

Greg Long

Bish’s RV Content Manager

Amateur adventurer; professional dreamer.
aka: The Bish-Blog-Guy