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Interest High At RV Shows Despite Economy

RESTON, Va., Feb. 27 -- Attendance at RV shows around the country is providing evidence that interest in RVs remains high, despite the economy.

More than 44,000 people attended the Florida RV Super Show; 35,000 came out for the Utah RV Show; and 30,000 showed up for the Maryland RV Show. The large crowds at these shows and others have pleasantly surprised organizers and dealers, who say that people are not just looking at RVs, but buying them, too.

"Our sales were up 20 percent over last year's Maryland RV show," says Charlie Wolf, sales manager for Beckley's Camping Center. "People are still buying RVs. They still want to go camping, get away and have fun."

Tim DeWitt, executive director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds, said attendance at the recent Flint Camper & RV Show was up 25 percent over last year. He attributes the increase to consumers recognizing that there's never been a better time to buy an RV. "This is a buyer's market," he says. "You can negotiate with dealers, who are discounting heavily."

In addition to the great bargains that consumers are finding at shows and on dealer lots, they also appreciate the value that RVs offer. Even in a recession, RV travel is the most affordable way to go.

Tim Lundy, 40, of Feasterville, Pa., is an example of someone taking advantage of the market and getting a great deal. He recently bought a 40-foot 2009 fifth wheel trailer, an upgrade from a 28-foot travel trailer.

"I shopped for several months and there's definitely a lot of great buying opportunities out there," says Lundy, who works for the Philadelphia Electric Company.

Buyers who meet income requirements also will be able to take advantage of the new federal stimulus plan that provides for a deduction of sales tax on the first $49,500 of a new motorhome purchase.

"This is the kind of consumer incentive that will help increase demand in what is already a buyer's market with the great bargains out there," says Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). "Plus, loans to purchase the vast majority of RVs are treated like mortgages -- the interest is tax-deductible."

Buyers with good credit and a substantial down payment are obtaining loans to buy RVs. Coon is optimistic that the new stimulus package will ease the credit crunch and encourage more lending, which will be good news for more consumers.

According to a 2008 travel-cost comparison study by international travel and tourism experts PKF Consulting, family RV trips are 27-to-61 percent less expensive than other types of vacations, even factoring in RV ownership and operating costs.

Reports from RV retail shows indicate that shoppers are impressed with new RV products that are smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic and fuel-efficient than previous models.

"RVing is a tremendously popular lifestyle that will endure through these tough economic times, because it's the most cost-effective way for families to have a great vacation," says Coon. "Solid traffic at RV shows and the innovation going on within our made-in-America industry are signs that the long-term outlook remains positive."

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association ( is the national association representing approximately 500 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

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