COVID & RV Sales
Previously, we’ve written about the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. new vehicle sales as well as the longer-term impacts for repairers and insurers of slower vehicle sales. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Sales (SAAR) for the US new vehicle sales market was adjusted in June to 13.5 million vehicles from last year’s pace of 17.1 million. As states reopen at different paces across the U.S., there are some signs of increasing sales for light passenger vehicles. Additionally, another vehicle has gained recent popularity — RV sales have increased at record levels.
After months of being cooped up and cancelling traditional summer vacation plans, numerous Americans decided buying an RV was the way to have a lower risk vacation. Many dealers reported record RV sales in May. Additionally, some have set a monthly sales record in their company history. As inventory started to run thin, production began ramping up again recently at major RV manufacturers like Thor and Winnebago Industries, which suspended operations for several weeks during the pandemic.
Families not ready to make the financial commitment of buying an RV found waiting lists at RV rental facilities. The “Airbnb of RV rentals” RVShare indicated business is booming among its 100,000 listings across the country. In the Midwest for example, bookings for RV rentals were up 30% the second week in May compared with the same period last year and reservations have climbed 331% since early April (yes, you read that right, 331%!).
With COVID-19 quarantines resulting in many Americans working from home, the RV trend may be permanent and RV sales might stay steady. More people may be inclined to occasionally take their work on the road, with their new vacation toy becoming a mobile office.
What’s the dark cloud to this silver lining? Rookie RV’ers. A regular driver’s license is all that is required in most states to pilot most RV’s. Also, the orientation many RV dealers provide is just a few quick instructions when the new owner or renter is driving off the lot. Thankfully, there are many low cost or no cost RV driving schools across the country that will help new RV’ers become safe RV’ers. Summer has always been peak claim season for insurers and RV repairers, and this season may set a record as RV sales have increased.
Greg Horn was the past Vice President of Material Damage claims for Good Sam and Camping World Insurance companies.
Greg Horn is PartsTrader’s
Chief Innovation Officer.