The nation’s boating and RV industries have weathered a severe slowdown in business as consumers grapple with job losses, home foreclosures and a general flatlining of the economy.
But representatives from the two industries say things are beginning to pick up. And consumers will get an up-close look at some of the newest models at next week’s Boat & RV Summer Super Sale at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The show will feature a wide array of new and used recreational vehicles, as well as about 250 boats.
“This has been a fairly good year for the RV dealers in Southern California that haven’t pulled their horns in all the way,” said Jim Sibert, Southwest sales manager for Affinity Events, which produces shows serving the RV industry. “But 2009 will go down as the deepest part of the recession for us.”
Sibert said RV sales were off about 50% last year.
“There was a lot of left over merchandise that had to be cleared out,” he said. “Basically, RV dealers were caught flat-footed. They just didn’t see the recession coming.”
Sibert said many RV dealers have been forced to offer drastic discounts to move their inventory.
“Last year you saw some units originally priced at $350,000 that were going for $250,000,” he said. “And a $50,000 travel trailer might have sold for $35,000.”
Still, Sibert said people are making use of their RVs.
“The campgrounds and national parks have reported record sales,” he said. “People who had RVs last year were using them. They’re weren’t taking that Hawaii trip, so usage of RVs was up.”
Bob Brown, a spokesman for the Southern California Marine Association, said the boating industry has also taken some heavy hits.
“It’s been a rocky period for the recreational boat industry for the past three – and almost four years,” he said. “Boat prices have come down 25 to 30 percent.”
But shows like the upcoming Boat & RV Summer Super Sale help to generate business. Some consumers will buy on the spot, he said, and others will find the craft they want and make plans to buy it down the road.
“The desire to buy a boat has not declined,” Brown said. “But people find it more difficult to get the financing. Consumer confidence has improved a little in 2010.”
Affinity Events is a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), parent company of RVBUSINESS.com.