Wednesday, September 10, 2008

RV industry trying to drive sales in economic downturn

A 40-foot motor home with a six-figure sticker and a 100-gallon fuel tank should be the last thing on Americans minds, as they're crunched by an economic downturn that includes high gas prices and tight credit.

Don't tell that to Vacaville, Calif., resident Sally Kemp. In Davis, Calif., last week, she was hitting RV lots looking for a bargain. She considers an RV purchase "an investment in the future."

Kemp has had a lot of company recently. Offering steep discounts, RV dealers have reported a spike in consumer interest; but still, the tough times have hit the RV industry hard. Three California dealers recently announced they're closing up shop. Last year, shipments of RVs to U.S. dealers dropped nearly 10 percent, according to the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Halfway into 2008, shipments were down another 14 percent.

The reasons are all too familiar: Look to low consumer confidence, flat household incomes, high gas prices and tight credit for the decline.

Yet the RV industry seems to be proving that you can sell anything if you discount it enough.
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