RV Market Expected to Rise with Economy

With the economy teetering on the edge of recession, the cost of fuel expected to bounce back up and everyone concerned about the global warming crisis, RV ownership is looking better and better. Recent studies show that not only are RV vacations cheaper than other traditional vacations, they leave a smaller carbon footprint.

“Typical RV family vacations are on average 27% to 61% less expensive than other types of vacations,” found a new study by international travel and tourism consulting firm PKF Consulting. A second PKF study indicated that RV vacations generate less CO2 than traditional vacations that involve flying, renting a car and staying in a hotel. Including gas usage and dependant upon the type of recreational vehicle used, RV vacations resulted in a carbon emissions savings of between 0.9 and 1.8 tons compared to similar fly/drive/hotel vacations.

Both are powerful reasons to consider RV ownership, though current consumer concerns about the economy and the tight credit market have caused many interested buyers to delay discretionary purchases. Since August 2008, RV shipments have decreased 22.7% from 2007, according to Dr. Richard Curtin, Director of Consumer Surveys at the University of Michigan. This “wait and see” attitude is expected to continue into 2009 until credit eases and the economy begins to recover. Dr. Curtin predicts that 2009 purchases could drop 5% below 2008 totals before the RV industry shows signs of recovery.

However, the long-term future is bright. Until the start of the economic slowdown in 2007, RV sales had risen steadily over the previous 5 years. Even though current sales are down, RV rentals have continued to grow, increasing by 18% this year. As families choose to save money by vacationing close to home, RV camping is increasing in appeal. Retiring baby boomers are also drawn to the easy travel advantages of the RV lifestyle. With owner ages ranging from 35 to 75, RV appeal cuts across age boundaries.

Nearly 8.2 million American households currently own an RV, a 64% gain since 1980. With 23% of U.S. households planning to purchase an RV in the future, Dr. Curtin expects RV ownership to outpace other housing options by 6%, increasing the number of American households with RVs to 8.5 million.