Has the RV Market Finally Bottomed Out? RV Industry Update October 2023

By Aaron Brunson

Hey, everyone! Josh, the RV nerd from Bish’s RV, is back with another monthly industry update for all you fine folks out there. You’re going to get the best possible picture of what’s happening in the RV market right now. What can we expect as we move from the fall kickoff camping season into winter and onward? Well, if you’re just curious or dead serious about getting into the RV game, this industry update will give you some information that will help you confidently jump in.

Table of Contents:

Quick Recap of the RV Dealer Open House

Just a quick heads-up, as this video is being rolled out, the big RV dealer open house has just wrapped up. This event is a mega RV show exclusively for dealers, where we get to see all the new models, features, and exciting things that will hit the RV scene. Manufacturers have pretty much locked in their 2024 lineups by now. So, make sure you’re subscribed because I’m working my tail off to build a massive 2024 catalog for you to enjoy.

RV Industry Update October 2023 new models

The Health of the New RV Market

Now, let’s talk about the current state of the new RV market. Please keep in mind that all the stats I’m sharing here are a month or two behind because that’s just how things roll in the RV industry. The most recent stats I have are from July.

RV Industry Update October 2023 units sold

So, here’s the deal: July 2023 saw the second-lowest volume of RV shipments for the year, with only January being worse. July is usually considered the peak summer season for RV shipments, so matching it with January is far from ideal. In July, around 205,000 RVs were shipped. Now, why the drop? I believe two main factors are contributing to this.

V Industry Update October 2023 shipment stats

First, interest rates are putting pressure on dealers to reduce on-hand inventory. The longer a dealer keeps an RV in stock, the more interest they have to pay. It’s called floor planning, and it’s similar to how you pay interest on an RV loan. Higher interest rates mean more costs for dealers, so they’re keeping their total inventory lower.

Second, the RV open house event has concluded, and all the new 2024 models are on their way to dealerships. Dealers are focusing on their high-volume, guaranteed sellers, trying to push off older inventory. As a result, they’re not requesting as many shipments from manufacturers right now.

Looking Forward: Fall, Winter, and 2024

Despite the recent slump, the consensus is that the industry has hit its lowest point and is expected to have a relatively strong fall and winter compared to historical trends. However, I don’t want to get your hopes up too high. We’re looking at an estimated 297,000 total RVs built and shipped in the 2023 calendar year, with expectations of a little growth and recovery in 2024, around 370,000 units. These numbers are up from earlier predictions, but remember, anything can happen in this industry. Natural disasters, labor strikes, and other factors can have widespread effects.

Now, I’m curious about your predictions. What do you think the RV industry’s health will be in 2024? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

The Used RV Market

Let’s shift our focus to the used RV market. I’ve been keeping an eye on wholesale auction values, as it’s one of the few things I can directly track. The value of towable RVs in the used market seems to be on the rise, while the value of motorized RVs is going down, or vice versa, every other month.

This trend may be due to more manufacturers in the towable RV segment introducing lower-priced options. Remember, the value of used RVs is relative to the current new RV market. If new RV prices increase, so do used RV prices, and vice versa.

Chassis Availability and Motorized RVs

Looking at motorized RVs, last year’s major issue was chassis shortages, which held up production. This year, chassis availability isn’t a problem. Better motorhome supply has reduced inventory exploitation opportunities, which means you can’t demand as much money for them when there’s more supply.

RV Ownership and Campground Expansion

So, with all these people getting into RVs, where are they going to take them? Campgrounds are filling up fast. In the past year, we’ve seen a significant surge in new RV campsites. This growth is likely due to people looking for alternative housing options and more families enjoying the RV lifestyle.

RV Industry Update October 2023 sites

People are planning fall and winter camping trips like never before, and it’s shaping up to be a record-cold camping season. The RV lifestyle is thriving, and with more campsites opening up, we can hopefully reintroduce a bit of spontaneity into our adventures.

Interest Rates

After some sharp increases, it’s expected that the Federal Reserve will maintain interest rates for now. This provides some predictability for consumers and hopefully doesn’t add any more uncertainty to the market.

Towing with Ease

Imagine a world where your RV and tow vehicle function as one harmonious unit, reducing the sensory overload that often accompanies long drives. It’s a concept that many, including myself, are passionate about. Towing safety is paramount, and it’s high time the industry focuses on it. While it often seems like the RV industry is fixated on selling the next big thing, we mustn’t forget those who have already invested in their RV journeys and are just looking to travel a little safer.

Integrating for Safety

One area that desperately needs improvement is integration, particularly in the realm of safety features. For instance, wouldn’t it be fantastic if your RV’s backup camera seamlessly displayed on your truck’s dashboard when you shift into reverse? Unfortunately, this level of integration is currently rare, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it’s a sign of things to come. If automotive manufacturers don’t lead the way, perhaps Apple CarPlay or Android Auto can provide a workaround for a safer, less distracting driving experience.

The Resurgence of Affordability

Shifting gears to manufacturing news, it’s clear that the industry is in the midst of a transformation. Brands are recognizing the need for more price-sensitive RV options. Many RVs on the market today come with impressive features, but sticker shock can be an immediate turn-off for potential buyers. Thankfully, manufacturers are now introducing streamlined conventional series that promise more affordable adventures. Winnebago, for example, has unveiled their “stick and tin” access series, marking a return to their roots as Winnebago trailers. And that’s not all; there are hints of even more affordable, lighter, and smaller series on the horizon.

Winnebago Access 2024

Camping, Not Glamping

This shift towards affordability doesn’t mean sacrificing the camping experience. Manufacturers like Keystone RV are harkening back to the essence of camping with series like “Keystone Classics.” These RVs offer the basics, focusing on comfortable beds, functional kitchens, and a place to gather under the awning. It’s a return to the core of RV camping, where nature and family time take center stage, and you’re not camping to watch TV.

A Rare Gem: Alliance RV’s Factory Rebate

In the often murky world of RV marketing, the term “rebate” can be misleading. However, Alliance RV is breaking the mold by offering a true factory rebate. For the entirety of 2023, if you purchased a 2022 or 2023 model Paradigm, Valor, or Avenue RV and it’s still in stock at your dealership, you qualify for a $2,023 rebate.

Paradigm, Valor, and Avenue Rebate

In Conclusion

As the RV industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest trends and innovations. Towing safety, seamless integration, and affordability are at the forefront of this evolution, promising a brighter future for RV enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned RVer or a newbie looking for adventure, something is exciting on the horizon for everyone.

So, as the sun sets on another day of exploration and discovery, remember to take care, stay safe, and have fun on your RVing journey. And if you appreciate the insights and information shared here today, be sure to comment and share with fellow enthusiasts. Together, we can make RVing an even more enjoyable and accessible experience for all.

Until the next industry update!