Editor’s Note: The following is a report from Eleonore Hamm, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) of Canada, assessing Canadian RV sales for the first quarter of 2013.
Canadian RV unit sales and retail revenues are both down in the first months of 2013. Unit sales dropped from 2,053 to 1,863 in this period, down 9.3%. Given slow general growth and continued uncertainty concerning the pace and strength of the recovery, this result is not particularly surprising.
However, January and February remain two of the worst months of the year on which to base projections for results for the remaining 10 months: sales are always very slow this time of year and so sample sizes are small. We are just starting the annual spring selling season, which historically has always been much more important for final sales numbers than the wintry months that kick off each year.
All regions and provinces in the country have seen essentially the same contraction in demand this year.
Current Trends in the Canadian Economy
• Consistent with the slowdown in RV sales growth, overall economic growth in the final quarter of 2012 was relatively weak.
• March employment numbers were also weak and unemployment jumped from 7% to 7.2% with the loss of 55,000 jobs.
• Both core and headline inflation remain comfortably within the bank’s target of 1% to 3%.
• Figures for housing starts are highly volatile. However, housing transactions are slowing significantly in a number of key urban markets.
Overall, RV sales and other important indicators are facing stronger headwinds now than we saw for much of 2012. The relatively strong year we just came through may have stolen a few sales from this year through aggressive marketing and incentives. Also, it is possible that there is less pent-up demand in the market now that we’re several years removed from the recession.
More and more Albertans are hitting the road in RVs, as sales of recreational vehicles are bouncing back along with the economy, according to a report by CBC.ca.
Emily Reid, with Go RVing Canada — the group that represents RV dealers and manufacturers — says sales are way up.
“Alberta, in the first quarter, has shown an increase of 42% increase in sales, which is one of the highest in the country,” says Reid.
The economy is playing a big role, according to Darren Paylor with Woody’s RV World. He says the recession forced manufacturers to produce RVs for less, and dealers started buying in bulk.
“Trailers have come down a lot in price,” he said. “It was timely that it happened as our Canadian dollar strengthened a lot, so the reduction in price in Canada is very substantial.”
Paylor says an RV that would have sold for $150,000 six years ago, will now have more features and sell for closer to $100,000.
Trevor Elliott is just one of many Albertans buying a bigger RV this year. He says it’s his way to escape the city. “All our friends would come and camp and go out and about and have some fun,” says Elliott.
Go RVing Canada announced today (March 23) the appointment of Christopher Mahony as the new executive director of Go RVing Canada. According to a press release, Mahony brings in “a strong presence, credibility and adeptness in collaborating with all levels of management, media, stakeholders and the public.”
“Go RVing Canada is thrilled to have Christopher join our team in the role of executive director,” said Jeff Hanemaayer, Go RVing Canada chairman. “Christopher’s broad business, association and communications expertise, along with his enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle, will bring in a whole range of exciting new ideas to the table.”
Mahony joins Go RVing Canada from his most recent executive director role for the International Confectionery Association. The release stated that he is a strong leader in managing and maintaining marketing strategies with ad agencies and PR firms. In addition, he holds 10 plus years of board experience with national associations.
“I am delighted to join Go RVing Canada in my new role,” said Mahony. “I have had a long-growing passion for RVing which began when I first drove across Canada in 2001. I am very much looking forward to continuing to showcase the fun, freedom and flexibility associated with RV travel – and not only that, it is incredibly affordable.”
The Go RVing Canada coalition was formed in 1997, and consists of RV manufacturers, RV dealers and campground operators. For more information, visit www.GoRVing.ca.
They looked a bit out of place, surrounded by all the gray hair, the hawkers of hearing aids, a booth promoting cremation services and assorted vendors of electric scooters and customized golf carts.
But the Korczynski family felt right at home Saturday while looking for a new home on wheels at The RV Spectacular sponsored by the London and St. Thomas RV Dealers Association In Ontario, Canada.
The London News Press reported that Paul and Jenna Korczynski, with nine-year-old twins Brooke and Tyson in tow, came from Kitchener for the recreational vehicles show at Western Fair District.
The event draws about 8,000 visitors and is squarely targeted at an older, rather affluent crowd that can plunk down $100,000 or more for a motorhome, trailer or “park model” trailer.
Proud owners of a 26-foot fifth-wheel trailer, the young Korczynski family was looking at some 30-foot trailers, retailing for about $40,000 and dreaming of the possibilities.
“It’s a lot of money,” Paul conceded, “but we’re looking for a trailer with bunks for the kids so they can bring friends along.”
The construction worker said traveling across Canada and in the U.S. is a wonderful way to vacation as a family. They’ve been to Prince Edward Island, around Lake Michigan and they’ve stayed at Cedar Point in Ohio.
With high gas and grocery prices, the family likes travel in the U.S. to keep costs down, he and Jenna agreed.
So they were kicking the tires of a few units and dreaming of future trips that could be so much nicer with just a few more feet of living room.
Eight major retailers of trailers and motorhomes were on display.
At Forest City Motorhomes, co-owner Rick Goertz said his company has just come off its best two years. It sells 80 to 100 new and used motorhomes each year. New units range from $70,000 to more than $300,000.
“Seventy-five to 80% of our customers just come in and write a check,” he said. There is no need for financing. Most are retired businessmen and farmers who have been careful with their money for decades and decide it is time to splurge.
Goertz has no explanation for such strong sales when other parts of the RV business have been “pretty flat.”
A few feet from him was a 42-foot Itasca Meridian motorhome resembling a highway coach that usually retails for nearly $322,000 but was being offered at a “show price” of $257,700. The gleaming monster delivers about eight miles to the gallon, he said, but includes everything from a washer and dryer to home theatre, fireplace and bedroom ceiling fan.
Forest City Motorhomes sells one or two of those units a year and buyers able to spend that kind of money aren’t fazed by the gas consumption, he said.
Goertz said crowds appear up from previous years and he expects to engage in serious conversations with about 200 potential customers before the event ends.
The British Coulmbia Interior RV Show, the first full complex event at the South Okanagan Events Center (SOEC), is expected to draw at least 10,000 people from all over Western Canada to Penticton.
“Mayor (Jake) Kimberley and the previous administrative staff at the City of Penticton, before the SOEC was built, had a vision of what could take place with our convention center and opportunities that Penticton presents as an area for those not only to come and visit, but to be able to bring conventions and the like of what we are talking about here. The creation of the South Okanagan Events Center went a long way towards that,” said Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton.
Pentiction Western News reported that the B.C. Interior RV Show, taking place from May 4 to 6, will be the first full complex event encompassing the events center, Okanagan Hockey School arena, Memorial Arena and the Penticton Trade and Convention Center.
Utilizing the complete nine acres of city property has been a vision of SOEC general manager Dean Clarke since he first arrived in Penticton in September of 2010, having previously worked at Kelowna’s Prospera Place. Clarke said a trade show of this size could have more impact than hosting a concert at the events center.
“Yes, absolutely. I think it’s going to impact everyone. It is going to impact our revenue, impact their revenue and it is going to impact the restaurants, hotels, everyone. It keeps our people employed,” said Clarke. “This is the investment our citizens have made in this infrastructure, and we need to show the results and I think we are.”
The event will feature RV dealers displaying the best brands in the industry. Factory representatives from leading RV manufacturers will be on-site to speak with the public and answer questions.
Okanagan Hockey School will also host RV units as well as boats. Memorial Arena will feature RV accessories, leisure equipment and lightweight camping trailers. In the Penticton Trade and Convention Center, educational sessions and workshops will be held and more than 50 different vendors supporting the RV lifestyle will be promoting their products and services.
Al Mullins, president of the B.C. Interior RV Society, a non-profit that is comprised of several South Okanagan RV dealers that collaborated to put the event together, said the RV industry saw a downturn during the recession that closed operations such as General Coach in Oliver.
“We lost some key manufacturers out of the South Okanagan, but it is coming back again and coming back hard,” said Mullins.
One of the draws, he said, is the flexibility in the different types of units to suit budgets of young families to snowbirds who pick up and drive down south for the winter in RVs that have all the amenities of home.
“As one of my customers tells me, it’s not camping anymore, it is roughing it smoothly,” said Mullins.
He said a similar show in Edmonton did extremely well and one in the Lower Mainland had 16,000 people pass through the doors in four days. He expects people from all over the Pacific Northwest to come to Penticton in May for the RV show.
“This is the only complex in the Okanagan Valley that literally can hold this big of a show. We are going to fill this complex inside and out, drawing people from all over Western Canada and even the States. This is a must-see event,” said Mullins.
Reflecting a growing trend among Canadian RV buyers, lightweight travel trailers will be showcased at the Feb. 9-12 Edmonton RV Expo and Sale at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
The Edmonton Journal reported that Bill Burnett, president of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association of Alberta, said there are a lot more small trailers now than there were in years past that can be pulled by vehicles such as a minivan with 3,500-pound towing capacity.
“The market is polarizing,” Burnett said. “There’s lots of really big stuff, but there’s also that part of the market for trailers pulled by family vehicles. The industry has stepped up with trailers under 3,000 pound.”
Consumers can expect to see a selection of more than 400 RVs, including tent and travel trailers, fifth-wheels, park models and Class A, B and C motorhomes at the 32nd annual show.
In the larger units, lots of fifth-wheels are offering living rooms at the front of the trailer — the part that’s over the hitch, Burnett said. It’s an idea from the 1980s that’s making a comeback. A benefit of this floorplan is that it provides “an awesome view” from the living room, he said.
But this layout is not for small trailers. “It takes over 35 feet to pull off the front living room,” Burnett said.
A change on higher-end units such as Class A motorhomes is the use of automotive-style paint jobs rather than using decals to achieve the exterior look the manufacturer wants. These paint jobs are longer lasting than decals that will show the impact of sun and weather on units that are, for example, parked in Arizona for several months every year, Burnett said.
Burnett, sales manager at Trailblazer RV, expects dealers will be in a competitive mood at the show. Edmonton is a market with a full slate of RV dealers. In addition to dealers, the show will have a variety of other exhibitors including campgrounds, tourism areas and golf courses.
Dan Merkowsky, RVDA of Canada executive vice-president, pointed to one part of the show that has changed for 2012: The lifestyles theater has been dropped.
The theater attracted only a small percentage of those attending the show, Merkowsky said. Those who attended presentations usually went to sessions on one or two topics, leaving all the others virtually empty.
There will also be more than 30 tourism destinations will have booths at the show this year, Merkowsky said, giving consumers the opportunity to learn about places they can visit with their RV.
Go RVing Canada today (Nov. 18) released RV sales figures for 2011’s third quarter, which “clearly demonstrate that strong sales and revenue performance in July and August helped bring total RV retail industry revenues close to 2010 levels,” according to a press release.
Go RVing said that this data reinforces that RVing remains a popular travel option for Canadian families, who are discovering the fun, flexibility and affordability that the RV lifestyle provides.
With a strong rebound in demand in July and August, total revenues in the RV industry now stand at just over $2.3 billion dollars, bringing it close to the equivalent sales period in 2010. These solid 2011 sales results can partially be attributed to the strong Canadian dollar. The relative strength of the Canadian economy as a whole throughout the turmoil of recent months and years is also bearing fruit for the retail RV industry.
“This is wonderful news for the RV industry,” said Go RVing Canada Spokesperson Angèle Lapointe. “Much of the sales rebound in this year’s third quarter can be attributed to strong demand brought about by the continued affordability of RVs in Canada. This has come largely as a result of our strong currency.”
Depending on the RV model, a typical family RV vacation can be up to 75% less expensive per day than other forms of vacation travel. According to a cost-comparison study conducted by PKF Consulting, an RV trip is shown to be more economical when compared to a traditional week’s vacation for a family of four, when the costs of flights, car rental, hotels and eating out at restaurants are considered.
“Though Canada is not immune to the economic difficulties currently faced by the rest of the world, our performance has been far superior to most developed countries in terms of economic growth, employment and retail sales,” continued Lapointe. “Canadians are still opting for affordable travel options and RV vacations are just that!”
For more information on RVing and upcoming RV shows across Canada, please visit www.GoRVing.ca.
The 2011 Toronto Fall RV Show opened today (Oct. 14) and runs through Sunday at the Toronto Congress Center with over 250,000 square feet of RVs on display.
“There are several amazing RV shows launched across the country throughout the year. These represent a great opportunity for RV enthusiasts and potential buyers to see what their local dealers are offering all under one roof,” said Go RVing Canada spokesperson Angèle Lapointe.
The event, hosted by the Toronto Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), will also feature a fully equipped parts and accessory store and a chance to win a $5,000 cash back prize.
Organizers are emphasizing the affordability of RVing as purchase prices have remained stable due largely to the continued strength of the Canadian dollar. “Canadians are still looking for affordable travel options and are taking advantage of continued affordability in the marketplace,” said Lapointe. “RV vacations represent an extremely economical and fun way for families to travel.”
Depending on the RV model, a typical family RV vacation can be up to 75% less expensive per day than other forms of vacation travel. According to a cost-comparison study conducted by PKF Consulting, an RV trip is shown to be more economical when compared to a traditional week’s vacation for a family of four, when you consider the costs of flights, car rental, hotels and eating out at restaurants.
For additional show information, visit, www.rvshowfalltoronto.ca and for information on the RV lifestyle, a listing of more RV shows in Canada, and other RV-related information, visit, www.GoRVing.ca.
Recently released data from Go RVing Canada on provincial sales in 2010 showed that Saskatchewan was the leader in RV purchases on a per capita basis. In addition, residents of the province were almost three times more likely to purchase an RV in 2010 than Canadians in other provinces.
Go RVing Canada said that “the numbers clearly demonstrate that Canadians are taking advantage of continued affordability in the marketplace and discovering the fun, freedom and flexibility that an RV vacation provides.”
“This highlights the degree to which Saskatchewan has become a leading destination for RVers of all ages,” said Go RVing Canada spokeswoman Alana Fontaine. “More and more Canadians all over the country are discovering the fun and flexible travel options that RVing provides, and the best part is, it is extremely affordable.”
Earlier this year, Go RVing Canada released provincial sales data for Saskatchewan and the month of March 2011, demonstrating that RV sales in the province jumped an impressive 19.3% this year over last. While consumer prices in most other industries have been on the increase in recent months with relatively high inflation, RV purchase prices have remained stable at the record-low levels consumers have been enjoying for several years.
“Affordability drives demand and RV prices have never been better for Canadian families looking to experience the RV lifestyle without breaking the bank,” said Fontaine.
Construction of a new RV dealership in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, should be completed by August, according to a report in the Telegraph Journal.
Tracy Whalen, the vice president of Maritime operations for the Butler Group of Companies, which operates five Leisure Days and CRC RV Centres in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, said the company liked the property’s proximity to Highway 1.
“We’ve looked at properties in that area for the last three years,” she said. “We generally like to have our stores with easy access to the highway – especially when a lot of people are first time buyers of big trailers and their comfort level is better pulling back onto a highway than going through city streets.”
With two stores in Salisbury, the company decided it wanted to open its sixth location in the Greater Saint John area after holding several RV shows at McAllister Place, showcasing its Jayco line of trailers. Ground broke around the first of April.
“We had good feedback on the product that we sell,” Whalen said, “so we just thought it was time to expand.”
The Quispamsis store, which will be called RV Canada, will focus solely on the Jayco lineup. It will carry between 70 to 100 new pieces at any given time.
The 10,000-square-foot building will house both a showroom as well as a service area. About 12 to 15 will be hired initially, and will include sales people as well as RV technicians.
“It will be a full-stop shop,” she said. “It will be a fully equipped repair shop. We will be able to service trailers for customers, even if it’s not a Jayco.”
Whalen said RVs remain popular even as gas prices continue to rise.
“A lot of people are just deciding rather than travel they’d rather stay close to home,” she said. “We are selling a lot of trailers that they are, in fact, not towing. They are parking them seasonally at campgrounds for the summer. It’s a lot cheaper in many respects than a cottage.”
Younger families tend to buy tent trailers, she said. As the family gets bigger they tend to upgrade to bigger trailers. Empty nesters like to buy fifth wheels or motor homes.
“The age dictates often what type of trailer they are buying,” she said. “Usually campers are campers for life. Once they get the bug, they do it for their entire lives.”