High Gas Price Impact Negligible for Now
The sharp rise in gasoline and diesel fuel prices occurring earlier this month have not had much of an impact on RV sales at least for now, according to several West Coast manufacturers.
“Obviously, what’s going on overseas is on people’s minds, but I can’t say it’s brought us to a stop,” said John Sammut, western region sales director for Fleetwood’s motorhome division in Riverside, Calif. “Our business is very good. Our retail activity and our actual retail sales are better this January than they were a year ago. So, based on that, I don’t think the gas prices have had any adverse effect at this point.”
“Gas is at least available,” Sammut added. “I think the availability can affect things more than price.”
There also has been very little impact so far on the towables side.
“The price (of gasoline) really doesn’t affect us in the towable business at all,” said Brandon Alexander, marketing manager for Thor California, Inc., a Moreno Valley, Calif., manufacturer of lightweight trailers.
Thor California’s sales were stronger in January of this year than they were in January 2002, he said.
Gary Denton, marketing and sales director for Perris, Calif.-based Weekend Warrior, said his company’s sales of toy haulers also were exceeding last year’s figures. “I think we’re in a hot market and we have a hot product and that’s what’s dictating and fueling our sales,” he said, adding, “We’re creating records every month.”
Denton attributes Weekend Warrior’s sales strength in part to the fact it caters to relatively young off-road vehicle enthusiasts. “We call them motorheads,” he said. “And when they want to use their toys, they’re going to go.”
Meanwhile, at National RV Holdings Inc., said Carol Taylor Clay, director of investor and public relations, “We’re not seeing any symptoms of the fuel (price) increase. Business is booming.”
Clay added, however, that because National RV’s towable and motorized units are, for the most part, positioned in higher price ranges, its customers are less likely to be affected by fuel cost increases.