The RV business is booming right now and that is due to a confluence of economic and technological factors. I would argue that runaway housing costs are still the biggest factor pushing people into van, RV and tiny house living. All the same RV sales are booming and it’s not just people living in them.
RV sales have increased every year since 2009, when sales were a dismal 165,700 units. The prediction this year is for sales to top 472,000. Those numbers don’t count all the people building out vans, refurbishing older campers, buses and converting cargo trailers. I’m already hearing that campgrounds are more crowded than ever and it can be a wait for reservations at the more popular places. KOA is having its best summer in 57 years.
Gas Prices and Easy Credit
The RV industry is being helped by record low gas prices and the easy availability of credit. But focusing just on gas prices alone could lead to erroneous conclusions about the market. Campers are getting smaller, not bigger.
Largest Sales Growth Among Young People
Young people are the fastest adopters of the mobile lifestyle. Growing up in a world of insane rents and ever-escalating housing costs, the lure of mobile living for a younger generation is the cost advantage. Younger people are also more focused on experience over material things, which is a positive trend in my opinion.
Campers Are Getting Smaller
Better materials and construction techniques and computer aided design means that campers are getting smaller, lighter and packing more features into the same amount of space. Better manufacturing processes mean lower costs, with the average price for campers dropping steadily.
The trend toward smaller can be seen in manufacturers, like Airstream, where their tiny Basecamp model is blowing out sales records. At nearly $40,000 a pop, Airstream has gone from making 10 Basecamps a week to 25 according to CNN.
Technology Is Getting Better
With the improvement of wireless data services, being mobile no longer means being isolated or depending upon campground WiFi for internet access. The longer this trend continues, the more people will be making a mobility lifestyle their first choice.
Hotel Industry Partially To Blame
As camping and RV living become more popular, it’s also worthwhile to point out to the hospitality industry that hotels are their own worst enemies. The insanity of extra fees like resort fees, parking and valet fees and paid WiFi on top of ever escalating rates is what pushed my wife and I back toward camping. We did find some cool motels and hotels but we also found a lot of hidden fees. Campgrounds can’t get away with the fee game as easily because, once word gets around, their business dries up. RV parks playing the extra fee game end up becoming the overflow, the last choice for campers who can’t find a space anywhere else.
So, for Team Mobility, this is all good news. The more campers there are, the more campgrounds and mobile services we’ll see springing up.