RV Industry Association President Craig Kirby shared another hopeful outlook for the future of RVs in his most recent letter to association members.
At a time when many dealers, suppliers and producers are returning to work after a nationwide shutdown, Kirby acknowledged the industry’s challenges as well as its unique position. His May 1 letter to RVIA members encourages industry leaders to embrace consumers’ passion for the outdoors.
“Now we still have work to do, and we aren’t going to return to normal overnight or uniformly across the country,” Kirby wrote. “But, as an industry, we are well-positioned to move forward as we emerge from this health crisis, because while we have faced vast uncertainty and the unknown, there is a foundational truth that provides reassurance.”
The RV industry has obviously struggled, along with a broad swath of American manufacturers, during the coronavirus pandemic. Negative effects presented by the economic stall are plainly seen in the RVIA’s March 2020 shipment report.
However, travel and outdoor recreation experts give a positive outlook for the future of RV sales, manufacturing and other business in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Kirby has repeatedly shared words of encouragement with industry leaders, and his May 1 letter echoes those sentiments of resiliency.
Read Kirby’s full letter to RVIA members below:
Dear RV Industry Association Members,
Like so many industries and businesses across America and the world, the past six weeks have been a difficult time for RV businesses. While our daily lives and routines have been upended, I am confident as we look to the future. Next week, many RV businesses are returning to work. In talking with dealers across the country, many are reporting that sales are starting to improve. Additionally, more campgrounds are beginning to open as well – a great sign for consumers eager to get back outdoors. Now we still have work to do, and we aren’t going to return to normal overnight or uniformly across the country. But, as an industry, we are well-positioned to move forward as we emerge from this health crisis, because while we have faced vast uncertainty and the unknown, there is a foundational truth that provides reassurance.
Resiliency has always been a hallmark of the RV industry. Over the course of the last 40 years, the RV market has been marked by peaks and valleys with a trendline that persistently ascends. Following the gas and credit crunch of the late 1970s, the RV market totaled 107,200 units in 1980. Over the next 4 years it doubled in size to 215,700 units. The RV market rallied in the 8 years after the Persian Gulf War from a low of 163,300 units shipped in 1991 to reach 321,200 units, a 97 percent rise. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States. At year end, shipments fell to 256,800. That was followed by a five-year growth period that saw shipment totals reach 390,500 units, an increase of 52 percent. Finally, following the Great Recession, RV shipments bottomed out at 165,700 units in 2009 and rose steadily over the next 8 years to an all-time industry high of 504,600 units in 2017.
Together, we have weathered the normal ebbs and flows of the business cycle as well as cataclysmic economic and societal incidents.
Why? Because the exceptional benefits RVs provide are woven into the fabric of America.
Americans love the freedom of the outdoors and the enrichment that comes with living an active outdoor lifestyle. Our vehicles allow people to be in control of their travel experiences, going where they want, when they want. RVs allow us to spend time outdoors pursuing our favorite activities, creating cherished memories, and most importantly, to deeply connect with family and friends. I see great promise for the RV industry because we have emerged stronger from tough times before. I have no doubt that the magic of RV travel will once again bring people together.
I wish you, your families, your businesses and employees good health.
RV Industry Association President