With the temperature rising and school ending for the year, campgrounds across South Dakota are gearing up for a busy summer, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
Reservations are up 20% so far this year over the previous year, according to the state’s Game, Fish and Parks Department.
That’s good news for camper companies that are entering their busy season, too.
“We’re just swamped,” said Duane Spader of Spader’s RV Center in Sioux Falls. “Usually, from April through August, our service department is just swamped.”
Besides entering the normal busy season, local folks in the industry say there’s reason to be chipper these days.
Sales of campers such as motorhomes and fifth-wheels also are starting to increase as people come out of hiding after the recession.
Bob Deelstra, a salesman with NorthView Campers, said his sales are up 7% to 10% so far this year.
“We had customers out here last year that wanted to buy, but they were concerned about their job security,” Deelstra said. “Now that economic conditions have improved, I think people are more confident about making a major purchase.”
Deelstra also said that manufacturers have offered deep discounts to get people in buying mode.
Nationwide, new RVs shipped to dealers in February were up 95% over February 2009, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The increase is a good indication that dealers have a bit more confidence in the market these days.
And with more people willing to make a major purchase such as an RV, that’s a good sign that the economy is starting to jump back.
While the RV industry is one of the first areas to feel the hurt of an economic downturn, it’s also one of the first to jump back, Spader said.
He said his sales are starting to come back, too.
He started seeing a downturn in sales in 2007. Even with the recent surge, he’s got a ways to go before he’s back to where he was before the recession.
“Our sales are about 50% of what they were four years ago, but they’re starting to come back.”
He credits the increase in sales partly to his ability to offer good customer service to buyers but also said people are starting to feel more confident in the economy.