It’s only the first week of January, but it’s never too early to begin planning camping trips and vacations in a new recreational vehicle.
The annual Tarrant County RV Show begins today (Jan. 6) at the Fort Worth Convention Center, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Metroplex dealers will display more than 300 recreational vehicles of all types, from big motorhomes to smaller trailers, said Pat Hahn, the show director.
Other exhibits will feature resorts, RV destinations and related products and services.
After plunging along with the U.S. economy to a two-decade low in 2009, RV sales rebounded sharply in 2010. When December’s results are tallied, wholesale shipments of RVs are expected to be up about 43% to 236,000 units, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
“We’re expecting continued growth in 2011,” said Kevin Broom, director of media relations for the Reston, Va.-based group.
Two trends in the industry — increasing sales of trailers at the expense of motorhomes, and the emergence of younger buyers — continued in 2010.
“The industry had been trending toward the travel trailer for several years, and we saw that, if anything, intensifying in 2010,” Broom said. Travel trailers of all types made up nearly 90% of unit sales.
The wild card for RV sales is fuel prices, but barring a big, sudden surge, people seem to adjust, Broom said. Surveys have shown that RV users save 20% to 60% on lodging and meal costs.
Hahn said she expects turnout for the 2011 show to be up, both because of the economy and a forecast for much warmer weekend weather. Several dealers with exhibits will be new to the show or returning after skipping two or three years as the industry anticipates that better economic conditions will lead to more sales.
“I’m expecting bigger and better things,” Hahn said. “A lot of times after an election year, business seems to pick up.”
The show concludes on Sunday.
For more information visit http://fortworthrvshow.com/.
Attendance at the bellwether Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa that ended Sunday (Jan. 17) increased 12% over last year, despite questionable weather on the last day of the show’s five-day run.
”The show was very, very upbeat,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA). ”The weather was iffy on Sunday, but the dealers we talked to all said the same thing — that they didn’t hear any negative talk at all. People weren’t complaining about the economy or gas prices. They were just happy to be there.”
Some 50,753 people passed through the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds Wednesday (Jan. 13) through Sunday.
”We had a nice increase (in sales) from last year,” said Ken Stumpe, Florida Show sales manager for Lazydays RV SuperCenter in nearby Seffner, Fla., ”There was a lot more traffic than last year. It was a totally different atmosphere. A lot of people said they were tired of waiting.”
Camping World RV Sales, which had a dozen displays at the show, sold 179 units, 37 of them Damon and Four Winds motorized RVs, according to President Marcus Lemonis.
Increased attendance at the Florida Show generally mirrored that of other early 2010 shows in Denver, Cleveland, the Washington, D.C., area and Greensboro, N.C.
“Seeing all the aisles full and the dealers not being able to handle all the customers is great,” said Tom Gaither, senior vice president of Affinity Group Inc.’s Affinity Events division.
Gaither reported positive attendance results at three U.s. shows that his organization operates:
- The 20th Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show Jan. 13-16 in Denver increased 26% compared to 2009.
- The 21st Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show Jan. 8-10 in Greensboro was up 1%.
- The 24th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Chantilly, Va., increased a startling 154%.
”Just the fact that attendance was up tells me that people are looking for RVs and want to go camping,” Gaither said.
Elsewhere, the 34th Annual Ohio Supershow Jan. 6-10, sponsored by the Great Lakes Recreation Vehicle Association, saw a 30% increase in attendance.
”It was one of the best shows in 34 years,” said Great Lakes President Bruce Wolfson. ”It was a great start to the year. People were very upbeat, so the dealers were upbeat because of it.”
Bob Moore, co-owner of Moores’ RV, North Ridgeville, Ohio, said this year’s Ohio Show was the best he’d had in three years.
”The public’s attitude is improving,” Moore said. ”People came in in much better spirits and were much more interested in buying. Their level of creditworthiness and their willingness to put money down was up substantially. That has made us very optimistic about how things are going to go for the summer.”
Not all reports were upbeat, however.
At the Tarrant County RV Show Jan. 7-10 in Fort Worth, Texas, attendance wasn’t quite as strong as last year, said show director Pat Hahn.
Considering below-freezing temperatures for four days before the show and competition from a Dallas Cowboy’s playoff football game, ”I was very pleased with attendance,” she said. ”It was almost as good as last year and last year’s show was terrific.”
Stacy Rist, general manager of Bennett’s Camping Center, a towable dealer in Granbury, Texas, said that while sales at the Fort Worth show weren’t strong, the dealership got a lot of leads.
”There was lots of traffic, but nobody was turning lose of any of their money,” Rist said. ”We might not be over the hump yet. I’m not completely disappointed, but the days of the impulse buyer are gone. You have to work hard for each sale.”
One way to escape the cold the next few days will be to dream of warm summer vacations at the annual Tarrant County RV Show in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ten area recreational vehicle dealers will have about 300 units, ranging from pop-up campers to the large self-contained, motorized units, on display inside the Fort Worth Convention Center today through Sunday, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
And if the dreams get really vivid, dealers and their finance personnel will be on hand to make sales.
The RV industry has shown vigor in recent months despite the poor economy, said Pat Hahn, the show’s director, who expects a good turnout. “We had a great crowd last year for the January show, probably one of our best ever.”
Recent shows in other parts of the country have had heavy attendance.
Hahn said the RV market no longer tilts as heavily to the retiree end of the age and economic spectrum as it long has.
“We’re seeing a lot of younger crowds at the shows that we didn’t see just four years ago,” Hahn said.
“A lot of time the regularly priced tickets outsell the senior citizen tickets. I think that’s probably because it’s a great way to vacation with the family.”
RV dealers’ sales slumped mid-year as the economy worsened but have improved significantly in recent months.
“July was really tough,” Hahn said, “but it picked up from then on.”
In addition to the RVs on display, Hahn said that about three dozen other exhibitors will be displaying items associated with the business at the show.