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RV sales 'normalizing' to pre-pandemic numbers following huge boom in sales

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Posted at 6:41 PM, Feb 04, 2024

BILLINGS — After a tremendous boom during the pandemic, RV sales are normalizing back to pre-COVID times, but that doesn't mean Americans aren't camping. According to Kampgrounds of America, around 57% of campers have already booked a trip for this year.

The pandemic threw a lot of businesses under the bus but Midway Auto and RV in Billings wasn't one of them.

“People were in a little bit of a panic having to stay inside and so they were buying RVs to get out,” said co-owner and general manager of Midway, Chris Grant on Tuesday.

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Chris Grant

According to the RV Industry Association, RV shipments saw a nearly 40% increase from 2020 to 2021. Post-pandemic, there was a nearly 92% decrease in RV shipments from 2021 to 2023.

“The pandemic did spark a lot more of buying action from the consumer but now it’s coming back to more of the 2018, 2019 numbers, rather than the crazy numbers in 2020 through 2022,” Grant said.

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That doesn't mean doom and gloom for Midway.

“If you talk to the campgrounds across the nation, you’ll find that they’re all full, they’re all booked out. And so people are still camping,” added Grant.

KOA headquarters Senior Vice President of Marketing, Diane Eichler, echoes this sentiment.

“People are getting out and using their RVS more, because now they have them. So we have more incidents and they’re spending more camping nights out on the campgrounds,” Eichler said.

She said that as of last December, one in four of campers intended to winter camp in their RVs this year.

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Diane Eichler

“74% of our glampers have already booked their camping going into 2024. Glamping is a really desirable activity going into 2024, so we're really excited about camping season," said Eichler.

Percentages that give Grant some peace of mind even though he's not worried.

“Everybody wants to camp, it’s just part of the lifestyle living in Montana,” Grant said.

He said it's currently a great time to buy an RV as camping manufacturer costs have gone down 10% for the consumer and the dealer, and dealers are no longer dealing with the inventory issues they saw during the pandemic.

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However, he said that expectations for buying a camper have changed from 2020, with the competition now being a little steeper.

“The customer can now go to any RV dealer and get what they want because the inventory is here. And so, it’s really a matter of can you satisfy the customer through the process and make sure they know that you’re going to take care of them,” added Grant.