The rebounding recreational vehicle industry will display its latest offerings this weekend at a bigger Atlantic City RV Show, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
Now in its 16th year, the show will feature more than 250 new models from nine large dealers, with 54 exhibitors total, said Harry Lutz, show manager for the Affinity Events division of Affinity Group Inc., parent company of RVBUSINESS.com. The show starts Friday (Feb. 25) and runs through Sunday at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
That is up from last year’s six dealers, and the Atlantic City show gets the largest dealers since this is the part of the state where campgrounds are king. Among the largest exhibitors will be Driftwood RV Center, Crossroads Sales, Hitch-RV and White Horse Leisure, Lutz said.
“People don’t have to traipse all over to see a variety of units, driving around for two or three days and then going home and saying, ‘What was that unit like?’” he said. “Here you can walk over and look at it again.”
On display will be all three classes of motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, park models and folding campers — with new levels of fuel efficiency and many at special show pricing. Camping resorts will pitch to RV owners, and apparel and accessories also will be available.
The upturn at the show mirrors that in the industry.
Market analyst Robert W. Baird & Co. of Milwaukee estimated that demand for recreational vehicles increased 20% in the fourth quarter.
RV shipments for 2010 were up 46% from the year before to 242,300 units, data compiled by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) showed.
However, an analysis by Richard Curtin at the University of Michigan determined most of that gain was attributable to inventory buildup rather than sales as dealers restocked their lots in anticipation of a return to growth. Curtin forecast that unit shipments will rise 9% this year to 263,100.
Lutz said Affinity has staged five RV shows in the past four weeks, and all have done better this year than last.
“At this year’s show attendance is up by about 40%, and sales of units have also substantially increased, in all types of RVs from tent campers on up,” he said.
Even the snow and storms of this winter haven’t discouraged customers.
“The Edison (Middlesex County) show in January was gangbusters as far as people buying stuff,” Lutz said. “Dealers said even back at their lots afterward with a lot of snow and bad weather, they were still busy.”
Lutz said that besides emerging from the recession slump in discretionary purchases, the RV industry is benefiting from two demographic trends.
- “The Baby Boomers are starting to become players in our marketplace,” he said, with members of that largest generation looking for retirement homes and vehicles for vacationing or visiting their children.
- At the other end of the age range, young families are seeing RVs as a cost-effective vacation that keeps the family together, often a kind they experienced with their own parents, he said.
Lutz said the RV industry is doing better at drawing such new, young customers than alternatives such as boating.
“I got two phone calls today from people who have never been to an RV show before. One asked, ‘Can I buy one there?’ The other said, ‘Should I bring my truck to bring it home?’”
While the answer to the first is yes and the second no (vehicles are prepped and picked up at dealerships after the show), Lutz said the meaning is new customers are entering the market.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) is the parent company of Affinity Events and RVBUSINESS.com.