Mark and Kimberly Clemens recently super-sized their cross-country trip to a July 4th family festival in Owensboro, Ky.
The Daily News, Los Angeles, reported that the couple traveled in their new 33-foot, tricked-out motorhome, which cost as much as a house in some of the towns they will pass through.
“The rig is performing really well,” said Mark Clemens, a 59-year-old Woodland Hills, Calif., insurance broker, in a phone interview during the trip at the Cracker Barrel in Kingman, Ariz. “I like it a lot. I like the freedom to kind of come and go. If you see a point of interest you can stop and check it out. You get to see a lot more than you do at 35,000 feet.”
The Clemenses had plenty of company at the campgrounds they visited along the way.
The RV sector is on the road to recovery, after being decimated by the recession, losing 260 dealers and three big manufacturers nationwide.
“We’re probably having the best year we’ve had in several years and we’re trying very hard,” said Bo Beaubrixey, general manager at the Camping World dealership in Valencia. “People want to use their RVs and go camping. All the campgrounds are full (this season). Even high gas prices are not stopping people from using their RVs.”
The store’s sales have increased between 25% and 30% from the recession low, Beaubrixey said. He declined to provide specific numbers.
After the economy tanked, people were still coming into the store looking to buy but could not get financing, he said.
Buying an RV is similar to buying a car, but banks want a 20% down payment and the payments are stretched over 10, 12, 15 or 20 years, Beaubrixey said.
This sector measures its strength in shipments of travel trailers and motor coaches from manufacturers to dealers. It has been on the upswing since 2009, said Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Through the end of May, RV shipments increased 8.6% to 127,454, compared with 117,352 in the first five months of 2011, he said.
“It’s definitely on the rebound,” Ingrassia said. “RVs are a discretionary purchase. One of the things we look at is consumer sentiment. When consumer sentiment takes a dive, usually RV shipments drop as well.”
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