Two weeks after we discussed the "unprecedented demand" for Recreational Vehicles, which we said was on pace for a blowout 2021, we got the latest confirmation of the historic yearning Americans have to dump their home and hit the road: according to the RV Industry Association’s March 2021 survey of manufacturers, more RVs made their way to RV dealerships across North America in March than in any prior single month.
The 54,291 wholesale RV units shipped last month is not only up 79% Y/Y from the 30,293 one year ago, but is a 5% increase over the previous record set in March of 2018. All-towable RV shipments climbed 78% in March to 49,303 from 27,723 a year earlier, while all motorhome shipments climbed 94% to 4,988.
The March shipments bring total RV shipments in the first quarter of 2021 to a record-breaking 148,507 units, the most RVs ever shipped in a single quarter and a nearly 10% increase over the previous record set in the first quarter of 2018.
“Over the past year, many Americans have rediscovered the great outdoors and the desire to get outside and to live an active outdoor lifestyle. And many of these same people also discovered for the first time that an RV is the perfect way to get the most out of the great outdoors,” said RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. “What our members have accomplished over the past year has been incredible. They have overcome challenges presented by the pandemic and have delivered a record number of RVs.”
“When we looked at the motivations for purchasing an RV over the past year, we found the reasons were the same as they had always been for buying an RV: the love of road trips, a desire to travel in comfort, wanting to explore the great outdoors, and the ability to use an RV as a basecamp for other outdoor recreation activities,” Kirby continued. “While many new buyers reported the pandemic did have some impact on their decision to purchase, the survey results showed ‘restriction on other travel due to COVID’ came in fourth from the bottom of the list. This really shows that people didn’t buy RVs over the past year because there weren’t any other options, they bought RVs because of the endless opportunities RVing provides to travel and to get outdoors.”
This new insight into the purchase motivations of people who bought RVs in 2020 is continued good news for an industry that has been experiencing forty years of long-term growth. A recent study from Go RVing echoed this growth, reporting that 11.2 million households now own an RV, up 26% over the past 10 years and 62% over the last 20 years. Even more importantly, nearly a quarter of current RV owners are now under the age of 35, and 84% of those younger owners plan to purchase a new RV in the next 5 years.
“The health benefits and mental wellbeing that come from being outdoors cannot be overestimated,” said Kirby. “The RV industry is proud to build a product that makes it easier for people to get outdoors. And with more and more people using RVs to experience the great outdoors, that is great news not only for the RV industry but for the health and wellbeing of many Americans.”