It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since someone in China said, “You know, I don’t feel so hot.” From there things went from bad to historically bad, and a distant news event became a global disaster that affected everyone on the planet in some way or another. Happily, the news is starting to skew toward the positive and people are sensing that our long trudge toward normalcy has begun. The fact that our collective sigh of relief is happening in spring as the weather warms and the sun shines only heightens the sense of optimism.
RV sales remain strong; 2020 ended up being a banner year for RV sales after people realized that camping was well suited to social distancing. Saying that Americans are eager to hit the road and go camping is an understatement.
But there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always a catch?!) Huge demand and low inventory have led to a seller’s market. We’re hearing from our readers every day that RV dealers are being pretty stingy with discounts. They can afford to be, their position is strong: If you’re not willing to pay a premium for this RV, someone else will come along within the week who is willing to pay.
On the other hand, oil prices are rising -as are gas prices at the pump. Historically, this has always proven to be an effective way to cool off an overheated market. While this is usually bad news for the RV industry, this time it may be good news for RV buyers. First of all, the reason behind the surge in gas right now is not based on low supply, implying the issue should be temporary. The U.S. has plenty of oil and gas. We’re swimming in the stuff in a way we haven’t since the 1950s. The problem is logistics.
The recent spike in fuel prices was largely due to the disruption of the Colonial Pipeline by a skeevy group of hackers who managed to lock up the company’s data system and didn’t let it go until they received a $5 million dollar ransom. The Colonial Pipeline -which hardly anyone had ever even heard of until the past few weeks- routes the bulk of the fuel from the Texan oil refineries to the southeastern United States. Locked out of its own system, Colonial was effectively held hostage until they ponied up the money. As gas pumps across the southeast ran dry, panic buying ensued and the media heightened the tension nationwide by showing long lines of cars snaking down the street waiting for the chance to fill their tanks. (In a way it was refreshing to see a lead news story that didn’t involve hospitals and coronavirus spread rates. Rising gas prices and pipeline disruptions? We’ve all seen this before. This was bad news, but it was good old-fashioned typical bad news.)
As of now, the Colonial Pipeline is master of their domain again and hustling to get their customers back on the road. As of now, the term “Colonial Pipeline” is slipping back in to obscurity, and the whole fiasco is quickly being replaced by the next news-event du jour.
Don’t expect gas prices to crater any time soon, though. The summer travel season will soon be on us and gas prices will go up. There’s a pent up demand for travel and while we may have plenty of oil sitting in refineries across the country, don’t expect the oil companies to cut us any slack. It’s not good news or bad news, it’s just supply and demand at work.
The operative word here is “temporary”. There is no underlying oil shortage or concern for dwindling supply. There are some issues and skirmishes taking place in the oil-rich Middle East -but aren’t there always? The pain at the pump in the coming months won’t last but it may spook off some RV buyers. This will actually be a good thing. Dealers will be forced to discount their stock to keep things moving and good deals will become possible again for those willing to do their homework.
Conclusion? Take advantage of higher gas prices to negotiate a better deal on any RV you may be considering, and take comfort that the reason behind the increase at the pump is typical, on schedule for the season, and is just business as usual. No gypsy with a crystal ball is needed to predict that gas prices will start to drop after Labor Day.
Keep in mind, getting a good deal an RV is only as good as the RV itself. A little research on the winners and losers will help you buy the right RV for you the first time. We’ve helped thousands of RVers over the years and our proven tips and tricks can be used to your advantage for any RV.
One last tip for today: Remember to check those tire pressures before hitting the road. It only takes a few minutes and it is proven to improve MPG, reduce tire wear, and can help you reach your destination safely.
The RV Reviews Team