EXCLUSIVE: Florida Show Manager Talks Inventory, Cancellations

A picture of the FRVTA Region 1 logo

The RV sales market is hot, but southwest Florida trade shows are feeling the chill because of inventory shortages – causing the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA)’s Region 1 to cancel its annual end-of-season event.

This year would have marked the SuperSaver Show’s 26th year at the CenturyLink-Lee County Sports Complex in south Fort Myers, originally scheduled in April.

“Due to supply issues and a continuing shortage of new and used RVs, our show committee had to make the difficult decision to cancel our annual shows this winter season,” Region 1 President Everett Henkel said. “We realize the public is clamoring for our products, but we wanted to continue our decades-long tradition of showcasing the finest RV products available at our events and at this time it just is not possible.”

At last year’s show, FRVTA Region 1 show manager Jack Carver said 13 dealers and 100 vendors participated, attracting nearly 13,000 visitors over four days. This year, Carver said he found five dealers interested in attending.

More vendors were lined up because of other local event cancellations, he said, but the consensus was having a show would be “unfeasible.”

“I tell people the RV business is doing terrific, but the RV show season is not,” Carver said. “Supply chain issues on the manufacturer side do not help shipments and further demand. There are units ready to be shipped in Elkhart, [Indiana], but are waiting for a refrigerator.”

This was the second Region 1 event cancelled because of an inventory lack this year. The Fort Myers RV Show, which would have occurred in January, was canceled after dealers expressed an “extreme shortage.” Some dealers reported having two or three units on hand, with uncertainty in the weeks to follow.

Carver said he is hopeful to see a light at the end of the tunnel come fall.

“At this time, we do plan to stage a fall show, as well as the return of our annual Fort Myers RV Show next January at the Lee Civic Center,” Henkel said. “Until then, I know those interested in RVing will continue to visit our local dealers until they discover that perfect RV that will take them on an outstanding road trip to experience our great nation.”

In regard to normalcy returning in fall, Carver said he “does not see why it won’t.”

“February was another [RVIA report] record-breaker for shipments,” he added.

Carver said three different types of consumers will return once inventory is replenished: people who purchased units during the initial RV craze last year and said “been there, done that,” people who bought last year and want to upgrade to a bigger or different unit and those who “could not find anything.”

Other FRVTA regions have had full show schedules, Carver said, some with record numbers based on RV demand.

“Shows are a lot of hand-holding and making sure things go smooth,” he said. “It is detail-oriented and a lot of work. We tend not have a ton of extra business going on because of that, to accommodate the shows. We are hoping to do the same thing this year.

“We will be alright going forward,” Carver said.

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