Let’s face it: The purchase of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and watercraft — from personal water scooters to yachts — is a discretionary one. Improvements in sales figures for these markets are excellent indicators that consumers are feeling better about the economy.
As reported by the Florida Times Union, Jacksonville, increasing demand fueled by rising consumer confidence led industry analysts to early predictions for a better year in 2012. Predictions were primarily for modest gains and some growth or only modest declines for some sectors. Overall, the industry’s outlook for the year was a refreshing change from reports of drastic drops in sales and the dire predictions of some recent years for all sectors including recreational vehicles, motorcycles, land and water power-sport equipment and boats and boating equipment.
The recreational vehicle market has been in recovery mode for a few years now. The recession initially decimated the market with a combination of less available discretionary income for core RV consumers and tightening of financing options for business and consumer loans.
“Nationally, RV sales this year have been a bit flat,” said Steve Fogle, general sales manager at General RV Cenin Jacksonville. “Overall, the market seems stable. Here in Jacksonville, however, the RV market is incredibly strong. This has been a phenomenal year locally.”
Fogle said the popularity of RVs is due in part to the fact that people are looking for cost-effective vacation options that allow them to leave daily concerns behind while spending time with the family.
“RVs are the perfect solution,” Fogle said.
General RV Center has seen growth every year since the full-service dealership opened three years ago.
“Business has been great all three years,” Fogle said. “Our sales volume has tripled and we had to expand in the last two years to accommodate increasing demand. Right now, our best sellers are towable products. Motor homes also are doing well.”
Recreational vehicles are appealing to consumers on many levels. This appeal — combined with growing consumer confidence in the nation’s economic recovery, greater availability of financing and low-interest rate loans — has contributed to market improvements.
Fogle is looking forward to the Florida RV Show in Tampa later this month and the 2013 Jacksonville RV MegaShow at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center Feb. 7-10.
“The big trade shows in January and February will kick off the year, and I expect 2013 to be another great year for the RV market in Jacksonville,” Fogle said.
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The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) just completed five regional RV shows and the results were encouraging heading into the busy winter selling season, according to a press release.
Tampa, Destin, Stuart, Kissimmee and Ft. Myers all hosted fall RV shows this year. FRVTA noted that while it was hard to compare to last fall, as three of the shows were new this year, the people that did attend were very optimistic about purchasing in the near future. The Tampa Show collected 10 barrels of canned goods for Metropolitan Ministries.
“This is a great time of year for shows due to the drier and cooler weather,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly. “We were able to get more advertising value for our dollars as well because we weren’t competing with political campaigns this fall in Florida. I think that also contributed to the upbeat and optimistic attitude of the crowds”.
FRVTA said that dealers and vendors reported steady sales. Campgrounds around the state are also seeing “snowbirds” a little earlier this year. “With the winter selling season just around the corner, all of these are welcome signs of great things to come,” FRVTA said in the release.
The FRVTA winter show schedule kicks off with the 2012 Florida RV SuperShow, Jan. 10 (Industry Day), Jan. 11-15 (Public Days). That will be followed by shows in Ft. Myers, Ocala, Jacksonville, Deland and West Palm Beach.
For more information about the FRVTA winter shows or for exhibitor information, go to www.frvta.org or call 813-741-0488.