Study Details RV Dealership Trends

An aerial photograph of an RV dealership lot with dozens of RVs lined up neatly

Thompson Research Group’s latest quarterly RV Dealer Survey found relative improvement in towable inventories available at dealer lots. While not out of the woods yet, the report stated there has been a marked improvement in units available. Motorized inventory availability continues to lag, with lead times one to two years out in cases.

Like 2021’s third quarter, the fourth quarter again reflected strong demand, the report stated. TRG blamed largely down year-over-year sales in part on an inability to stock units enough to meet demand.

“Consensus is that it will be late 2022 or into 2023 before the inventory issue is resolved, unchanged from our prior quarter assessment,” TRG stated. “Lead times remain long as supply chain bottlenecks continue to delay unit deliveries and preventing OEM’s from aggressively taking down backlogs. OEMs are left with a conundrum of waiting for the right parts or using alternative parts that get the job done but may not be the specified product for a specific unit (think different color cabinets, alternative furniture, etc).”

RV dealers told TRG sales are down because they have fewer units to sell, not necessarily because demand is down compared with the previous year.

In terms of pricing, TRG found suppliers took the brunt of the cost increases before seeing pricing gains. OEMs and dealers were able to pass on price ahead of cost increases. At the retail level, prices are up, in some cases up substantially, TRG reported.

“While demand fundamentals remain strong, there comes a point where the cost of an RV just becomes too much and turns customers away,” TRG reported. “The industry does not appear to be there quite yet, as higher prices have led customers to trade down a class or model year. On the other hand, a handful of dealers reported to us customers actually being surprised the prices were not even higher.”

At the Tampa RV SuperShow, where TRG appeared in person for the first time since 2020, the analyst group stated it heard the potential for retail prices may come down modestly as the supply side of the equation starts to improve. Dealers have been able to enjoy outsized benefits from price and margin during COVID-19, TRG found, and as inventory slowly is rightsized, dealers may be forced to take prices down.

Overall, outlooks reported from RV dealers appear to be mostly positive.

“Everyone is optimistic going forward,” said one Southern dealer.

“Rare to lose a sale over the higher prices,” said a Southeastern dealer. “Most people either trade down or eat the slightly higher monthly cost.”

“Demand will hold, and sales will be up now that we have more units in stock,” reported a Western dealer.

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