Buying an RV this summer? Are you the predator or the prey?
Did you know that a herd of antelope can collectively “sense” when predators appear on the fringes, usually in the form of hunting lions or hyenas? Adept at moving furtively through brush and laying low until the moment is right, an experienced lion is often able to sidle almost within touching distance without betraying her presence.
Zoologists studying antelope group behavior frequently don’t see the approaching danger –even armed with high powered binoculars- but have learned to identify when trouble may be afoot by the ripple of unease that rolls through a grazing herd, the simultaneous raising of heads, the restless shifting of hooves.
Predator animals that rely on their hunting skills to keep themselves and their family fed know there is more to bagging an antelope than stealth. What keeps prey animals like the antelope alive is their triple-threat defense system of sight, sound and smell, and not only must a skulking hyena approach quietly, he must also approach from the downwind side.
Researchers who have studied grazing herd animals vulnerable to attack claim that herds are always in one of three modes: Watchful, Pause, and Panic. What puzzles zoologists is the ability of the antelope to sense danger when no senses have been triggered. Research has shown that Panic is triggered by the confirmedsight, smell or sound of approaching danger, but what zoologists can’t figure out is what triggers the Pause phase.
With no hard evidence of predators, what is it that prompts the herd to collectively stop their grazing and take a hard look around, muscles tensed for the explosive flight of Panic? It’s almost as if millions of years of evolution (and millions of years of being startled by the sudden launch of a lion from the underbrush) have imbued the antelope with a fourth sense, like a tremulous early alert system that group-texts the herd that something just doesn’t feel right.
And what does the harsh reality of life and death on the Serengeti have to do with the world of RVs, you ask? Well, the human herd also senses when things don’t feel right, and for the last six to nine months, RV sales have slowed with no clear predator on the horizon. For some reason we are in pausemode, studying the horizon, sniffing the air, listening for something. With the stock market holding its’ own, and employment strong, two of the big warning signs that can trigger us in to Panic mode are not in play. Another trigger, oil, is as stable as oil gets (there are some rumblings of trouble in the Middle East, but that is hardly out of the ordinary). Also, for the first time in decades, the U.S. is almost swimming in its’ own oil, so trouble in the Middle East can give us pause, but we’re somewhat isolated from panic.
Returning to the savannah, a typical antelope herd may shift in to Pause mode dozens of times a day. Their early detection defense system is a marvel, but it’s also hyper-sensitive and a bit skittish. Most the time what gives them pause proves to be nothing but a nervous disposition and after a good look around, they return to grazing.
It’s now starting to look like the pause we’ve seen in the RV industry may be nothing but our own hair-trigger defense system. For months now we’ve looked for signs of a lion coursing its way through the brush and sniffed the air for the tell-tale carrion breath of a hyena, but nothing has revealed itself.
For those in the market for an RV, this is an ideal time for a return to grazing. And by grazing we mean taking advantage of some startlingly good deals from the countless RV dealers who were caught off guard when everyone slipped in to pause mode and held off on buying an RV.
RV dealers in the U.S. are up to their eyeballs in unsold stock. Some have even resorted to auction-style sales, so desperate are they to unload a chunk of their inventory. 2020 models are starting to appear and most dealers are still sitting on worrying numbers of 2019 models –and even 2018s.
Many RVers see their local RV dealer as a necessary evil, a greedy middle-man buying low and selling high. What they bring to the table is stock brought in from RV manufacturers around the country (an undeniably necessary service), but what they take away is premium prices for popular models and pushing the limits of what the market will bear.
Right now, though, the market isn’t paying a premium and dealers are scrambling. For the first time in a decade we’re seeing new travel trailers and fifth wheels selling for wholesale prices –or less. Motorhomes, too.
We’re starting to see signs that some dealers are willing to sell for less than they paid just to clear the log jam of their inventory before the 2020 models roll out in droves this fall.
So unique is the current climate that the antelope of the RV savannah (the RV buyer) has a rarely seen opportunity to turn the tables and prey on the hyena (the RV dealer).
A word of caution, though. This rare scenario is an anomaly. The natural order of things always prevails in the end, and at some point, everyone will return to their preordained roles. The herd will decide the coast is clear and return to grazing and the hyenas will be back on the prowl.
Until then, bid low, bargain hard, be willing to walk away, and do your homework. Getting a great price on a poorly built RV will soon reveal itself to be a hollow victory.
Lastly, fill your head before you fill your garage. The more research you do, the better deal you’ll manage –and that’s where we come in.
We just kicked off a Flash Sale on our two best-selling books. You can learn more at the appropriate link below:
Travel Trailer & Fifth Wheel Comparison Guide
Motorhome Comparison Guide
The RVReviews.net Team