The recession blues appear to be over for RV dealers. After a couple of years of slow sales and tight credit that forced a number of dealerships to close, new RV sales are on the climb again. Fed by an active pre-senior population looking for comfortable, cheap ways to travel, sales of new and used RVs are expected to grow 15% between 2008 and 2013, according to research by Robert W. Baird Co. Interest in the RV lifestyle is being led by buyers in the 55 to 64 age range, what dealers call the industry’s “sweet spot.”
Before the recession, a number of local car dealers made a brief sojourn into RV sales. Attempting to cash in on the burgeoning RV market, they added a few select RVs to their car lots. Auto dealers quickly found they couldn’t compete with dedicated RV dealers. Several realities quickly forced car dealers out of the RV market:
> RV buyers demanded a wide selection of RVs to choose from and expected them to be available on site. Car dealers couldn’t justify the cost of maintaining the required RV inventory. They just couldn’t compete with the large inventories and superior selection available at dedicated RV dealerships.
> The popularity of online RV classified ad websites like RVT.com took RV sales nationwide. RV dealers who posted their inventory online extended their potential buying market to a national audience. Car dealers found that RV buyers were willing to travel across country to pick up a good deal.
Next time: Taking dealer inventory nationwide