Is it safe to say that 2020 is turning out to be one of the strangest years in memory? And we haven’t even hit the halfway point yet. I’m hoping the rest of the year pales in comparison. (Would everyone agree that we’ve all had enough excitement for a while?)
Both RV manufacturers and RV dealers have faced some unprecedented headwinds this year. Not only have their factories and showrooms been shuttered for long periods of time, but in many parts of the country their customer base has been confined to their homes. While the RV industry is an old pro at battling economic storms, there is nothing in their playbook to counter a buying public that literally isn’t leaving the house.
But restrictions are easing in many areas and those venturing out are finding some screaming good deals on RVs. This is really good news for anyone considering an RV purchase in the next couple of months. After that, though, we’re predicting several months of tough sledding for the buying public. Elkhart, Indiana, the RV manufacturing capitol of the world (what Detroit is to auto manufacturing, Elkhart is to RV construction), basically shut down during the time of year when they’re usually the most productive. While there is a massive bumper crop of RVs sitting on dealer lots right now, we’re anticipating severe shortages of available stock this fall. According to the laws of supply and demand, limited stock and high demand will result in limited discounts. That’s a few months down the road, though. Right now, the opposite is true: low demand and high inventories have caused a glut on the market -and that has resulted in the screaming deals mentioned above.
We’re also anticipating very minimal changes for the 2021 model year. With their designers and engineers furloughed for long stretches of time, the RV manufacturers have not been able to make any significant changes or updates to their lineup for the next model year. Expect the 2021 models to be largely unchanged from the 2020 models. They’ll be marketed as 2021 models, they’ll probably have a few new decor choices or a new color scheme or two, but they will unfortunately just be warmed-over 2020 models.
What does this mean for today’s RV buying public? Well, for one, there’s no point in waiting for the fall models to arrive so you can have the latest and greatest that Elkhart offers. Also, there’s no point in paying a premium for a 2021 that is nothing more than a 2020 model with two new fabric options.
We’re currently seeing discounts of 20-23% from MSRP in many parts of the U.S. right now -and that is typically the sort of discount buyers can expect in mid-January, not mid-June.
For the real bargain hunters, the used RV market is also looking extremely appealing right now, with used stock levels up almost 15% compared to this time last year. Ordinarily this would mean that anyone trading in an existing RV for a new RV would take a hit on their trade-in value, but we’re really not seeing that at this time. Trade-in values have remained surprisingly strong. While this just may be the result of dealers desperate for sales, it also may be a sign that they are also anticipating a shortage of available stock later this year and are willing to pay a premium for used stock to keep their lots full. Either way, it’s a win-win for the buying public.
That’s it for this week. For those of you planning a much-needed RV vacation, remember to check your tire pressures before hitting the road. While getting there is half the fun, an unscheduled stop to change a tire won’t do much for your mood.
Stay safe. Stay calm. This too shall pass.