Boomers Fuel Rebound as RV Sales Strengthen
Many boomers may have doubts about their nest eggs, but at least one symbol of retirement prosperity is rolling along quite nicely.
According to a MarketWatch report, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) says that it expects sales of RVs and motorhomes to reach 307,000 units in 2013, which would make this the industry’s best year since 2007.
The RV business all but collapsed during the last recession, thanks to the combination of economic upheaval and high gas prices, with sales falling 58% from 2006 to 2009. Shriveling credit markets played a role, too, with many lenders being unwilling to finance RV and motorhome purchases even as they freed up money for car loans in general. Indeed, some analysts say looser lending policies are a major factor behind the current rebound.
A spokesman for Thor Industries Inc., the company that makes Airstream and other popular RV brands, tells Kyle Stock of Bloomberg BusinessWeek that buyers can now “get financing pretty easily up to about $150,000.”
RV salespeople say that retiring “snowbird” boomers are their biggest customer group; the trade group doesn’t publish specific age breakdowns, but its literature suggests that ownership rates are highest among those between age 55 and 75.
Speaking of snowbird stereotypes, the archetypal motorhome, in which the driver’s cabin and the living quarters are all on the same chassis accounts for only about 12% of RV sales.
“Travel trailers” that get towed behind another vehicle make up the majority of the market. Some of those are quite modest, but price tags on the most luxurious models can top $90,000.