This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

The Current State Of The RV Industry


a travel trailer set up in the wilderness with epic views of the mountains. The RV industry identifies this as quality recreation.
Experiencing the beauty and serenity of nature from an RV continues to be a popular recreational choice.      
Sponsored by National Vehicle

Gas Prices & Inflation Are Not Hampering RV Enthusiasm

Despite the surge in gas prices and economic uncertainty in general, the RV industry saw an increase in interest of buying an RV from May to June. Gone are the days of steady-as-it-goes; we now live in a time where things can change on a moment’s notice. We want to take a deep dive and look at how this has affected the RV industry. 

Times are changing, RV industry is growing  

The pandemic, which continues to impact global affairs, has changed our attitudes, our experiences, and our expectations about everything: travel, employment, education, personal and global finance, social interaction, leisure time activities, and even how we recreate. 

There’s a real urgency to abandon the social isolation of the past two years and get back to the lives we enjoyed before, but going back is not as simple as it sounds. The airlines are woefully understaffed in all departments, making traveler’s experiences more of a nightmare than a much needed and much anticipated vacation. Similarly, the cruise industry continues to struggle to keep passengers safe from COVID, even though all passengers must test negative before boarding a cruise liner.

A man and woman roasting hot dogs over a campfire in front of their RV
Camping in an RV is fun relaxing family time.

What are the alternatives?

So, if air travel and cruise lines have not returned to normal and are still not a viable recreational choice, where can people go to find the high-quality leisure-time experience they so desperately seek?  

Fortunately, RVing has risen to the challenge of filling this gap, and more people over the past two years have discovered the joy, freedom, and relative safety of RVing than any other time in the past. To better understand this opportunity, here’s an in-depth look at the state of the RVing industry today.

RVing is for everyone

The entire RVing experience is part of the adventure, from the time you plan your RV trip and leave the house until you get home. You don’t have to endure the hassles and delays of getting to your destination because the journey is half the fun.

Traveling through unfamiliar terrain during a road trip is just as enjoyable as actually camping in Joshua Tree National Forest, Grand Canyon National Park, or the Adirondack Mountains. In addition to providing a lower stress level for travelers, the cost of RVing per trip is estimated to be 20% – 60% less than a traditional vacation involving flights, hotel reservations, and dining out. In an RV, you take your bedroom, bathroom, refrigerator, and kitchen with you, so all your physical needs are met wherever you decide to stop or camp for the night. 

Are gas prices affecting RVers?

The impact of higher gas prices are not disproportionately impacting RVers. Rising gas prices and inflation impacts everyone, and higher fuel costs are factored into airline and cruise line ticket prices. So even though RVers are feeling the pinch at the pumps, all recreational activities have been impacted by these same economic conditions.

So far, inflation and increased gas prices are viewed as temporary and are not deterring enthusiasm for RVing. Finally, everyone can enjoy RVing because there are many RV models at every price point from $10,000 travel trailers to million-dollar luxury motorhomes.

Regardless of the value of your RV, the RVing experience is the same for everyone. It’s common to see R-Pods and Prevost motorhomes in the same campground enjoying the same amazing outdoor experiences side by side. RVing is not about the value of the RV. It’s about the freedom, mobility, discovery, and wonder of enjoying nature. 

Info the RV industry analysis shows that millions of people like this couple hugging outside of an RV enjoy this type of recreation.
Millions of people are currently enjoying RVing and millions more anticipate doing so in the near future.

RV industry statistics

RVing has always been a hugely popular recreational activity, but it has become even more so since the pandemic. There are 11.2 million households with an RV, but this is not the recreational choice of just retirees. The split between RV owners who are over and under 55 years of age is about even, and the fastest growing segment of the population to begin RVing for the first time are people 18 to 34 years old. The average RVer is married, 49 years old, and has an annual household income of $62,000.

As a side note, with the ubiquitous work-from-home mandate that sprang out of the pandemic, people realized they could easily work from an RV if they have an internet connection. This revelation freed many younger people to begin a whole new chapter in their lives.

Trends in the RV industry

It is estimated that 40 million people go camping every year. However only a fraction of these camping trips involves an RV since there are only about 11 million RVs in the country. Therefore, about ¾ of the 40 million camping trips are in tents or other rustic camping environments.

However, about a quarter of these campers (9.6 million) report they intend to enhance their camping experience by buying an RV sometime in the next 5 years, and many people who currently own an RV want to upgrade to a newer or different model. 

Advantages of RVing

The advantages of RVing are endless. With an RV, you don’t need to research and book flights, stand in long lines in crowded airports or cruise line terminals, arrange for the transport or boarding of your pets, make hotel and rental car reservations, worry about cancelled flights or missed connections, or be concerned about being refused boarding due to a positive COVID test. 

In an RV, you control your own airspace, where you go, and for how long. Social distancing is a natural part of RVing as you enjoy the outdoors. Instead of breathing recirculated air in an airplane, you can linger in the middle of a national forest enjoying air that is naturally filtered by giant Ponderosa pines or acres of Douglas fir trees.

statistical graphic from RVIA depicting rv selling trends
Statistical image courtesy of the RV Industry Association

RV Industry – Supply and Demand 

Selling an RV

All these factors are continuing to create a strong demand for new and used RVs. The RV industry is still struggling with labor shortages and supply chain constraints, so the production of new RVs has not kept pace with the demand.

The inventory level of RVs continues to be understocked compared to pre-pandemic levels, and sales are still strong with no slowdown in sight. These conditions create a strong reseller’s market, so if you’ve been thinking of upgrading your RV or just selling it outright, now is best time to sell it.  

You might be pleasantly surprised by the value of your RV. You can get a free valuation from National Vehicle to start the sales process. They also provide helpful private RV sales tips and services to help you maximize the value of your RV

Buying an RV

If you are one of the 9.6 million people who want to buy an RV in the next 5 years, here are a few tips to help you find the best deal.

Don’t wait. Get started right away because the process may take longer than you thought. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy because we wait too long to start a big project like finding the right RV. That delay may create a sense of urgency that could have been avoided If you start shopping early, know what you can afford, and have your financing pre-approved so the whole process will be less stressful. 

Tips for buying an RV

  • Research the peer-to-peer private RV market for a broader selection at a better price.
  • Be patient.
  • Have your financing in place.
  • Be willing to travel for the best deals.
  • Act quickly when you find the RV that fits your specific needs.

Conclusion

More and more people are discovering the recreational freedom of RVing, and the RV industry continues to thrive in spite of (or perhaps because of) the pandemic. After having been cooped up for a couple of years, people are eager to engage in fun, safe, and affordable ways to enjoy the great outdoors. This has created a strong national demand for recreational vehicles, and RVers seem unaffected by recent changes in the economic climate. 

Author Peggy Dent Avatar

Peggy Dent

I am an author and writer, my partner is a web designer. We are full-time RVers traveling around the US and Canada. We’ve been RVing for over 20 years and we’ve traveled more than 130,000 miles in an RV.

46 thoughts on “The Current State Of The RV Industry

  1. Believe The RV sales market remains slow but stable. As I am a salesman for a Tow-Behind only dealership, we have seen a slow trickle this season as opposed to pre-pandemic buying. With used values continuing to drop for a Sixth consecutive month, the market seems to be correcting and on the down-swing.

    Locally it is tough to get into a campground this season. Immediate availability or drive-in reservations are a thing of the past, which can stiffel the weekend-only campers. The retirement age RV’ers remain our most prevalent customer base, even as retirement funds and investments continue to shrink. Time will tell what the RV industry has in store next. One thing remains certain, those who RV, do it as a lifestyle choice, when the world goes haywire, just get back to nature, and all will seem right again.

  2. The only reason the RV industry is doing o.k. is the rampant tweaker homeless camping going on. They are a plight and an ever growing social disaster. I don’t have a problem with people living out of their RV, but these folk are a true mess. They destroy every spot they stay in and don’t pay any taxes, etc. RV’s have become, literally, a modern gypsy/grifter caravan item. The law needs to change to reflect this nonsense and stop it.

  3. I read the other day that Grand Design cut back to manufacturing only 4 days a week. If that’s true that means the industry is slowing down. I’m certainly not traveling as far from home at this time.

  4. RV lots here in town are stuffed to the max. The 2 biggest weekends are Memorial and July 4th. But where did the sales go? Current administration inflation, over crowded parks, people back in the office and we tried the camping thing could be some of the reasons the covid jump is now the covid dump. Manufactures that back their product will be around and some shady ones will go chapter 11.

  5. Yes kick out the turd. An RV can be an endless money pit if you need one use a rental unit. Use it turn it in and walk away from needless expenses of storage and maintainence.

  6. If this was true then why did 800 or more people in the RV Industry in Indiana just lose their jobs and why did Cruiser RV close down and why did Heartland RV close down a bunch of plants and why did Jayco combine lines if all was so great? There are alot of great workers without jobs right now!!

  7. Maybe something that the RV industry needs to consider is making a quality product. How about if you are going to charge as much as you do, doing a little better in your end with the build would be a hugh step in the right direction. If you are going to continue to produce cheap products, how about not arguing with the owner on warranty claims. I can say that I will never own another Forest River product as long as I live.

    1. Your so right there. So many camper made in the last three years have lots of problem their should be class action law suit left and right

    2. I don’t want to try and change your mind, I just want to try and change your perspective.

      The warranty process is solely up to the dealership, forest river only negotiates what will be covered. If the dealership is willing to go the extra mile to satisfy the customer, they will deliver in the end, and retain a customer.

      All Forest River brands operate independently from one another
      The level of build quality is different for every brand.

      You get the bottom quality in the Cherokee Brand, and the top Quality in the Flagstaff and Cedar Creek brand.

      Each Brand has their own manufacturing facility, own staff, own supply chain, etc. You can’t say I had a hard time getting something warrantied through Cherokee and say all Forest River products are terrible. Its like saying Apples are bad because you had one bad one.

      There are times where customers just get stuck in a new floorplan and the engineering and quality testing was subpar. Those floorplans don’t last more than one or two seasons. Its not like the Car industry where rigorous testing takes place.

      I’ve taken plant tours of Forest River’s top brands, and I can say from experience, Middlebury Indiana produces some of the best RV’s on the road today. With a workforce being almost 50% Amash, you can’t get better craftsmanship than that.

  8. Good luck try’n to find a campsite. We like to travel & have found it difficult to find available campsites along our route just for an overnite stay. We used to be able to travel during the day & pull into almost any campground for an overnite stay without a reservation. Now we have to book a reservation weeks or months in advance regardless of where or when we wanna stop drive’n for the day. Too many campers & not e’nuff campgrounds that you can just spontaneously pull into for an overnite stay.

  9. I travel all over the country in an 18 Wheeler and I see acres acres and acres of R v’s waiting to be sold. As a matter of fact it looks like the manufacturers do not even have anywhere to put new production But of course they’re going to increase prices instead of reducing them to move the stock

  10. The post certainly lists the pros of RV camping, but lacks the overall picture of the cons. Freedom in travel yes, but takes just as much, if not more, in planning. The rise in RV travel has negatively impacted campgrounds of all kinds- overcrowded. Costs have gone up. Booking sites are needed months in advance. Overall costs of purchasing and travelling is not inexpensive. We are not new in camping travel & have seen the changes Covid impacted our travel costs. Starting into RV travel should be done with deep understanding of all the associated costs and logistics.

  11. I sont know who youve been askinv about using an rv right now but we have had to cancel every other trip now die to skyrocketibg deisel

  12. Hello
    As I read your article about RVs and RV travel, I have very mixed feelings about your analysis for the cost of travel. We purchased our 05 Class A motor home in 2018. During our first few months of travel, we were able to do a trip over the road traveling 200-250 miles per day for an average of around $170-$180/day. (gas at $2.89/gal×37 gallons + Campsites $35-$40 day + food) From my perspective the cost of RV travel isn’t cheaper especially if you factor in RV purchase $10k-$500k and general ownership costs plus constant need for maintenance and repairs at $150/hr. At best, I might agree it is possibly equal to other more expensive travel options but can be either a pleasure or a bad dream. As you stated, fuel cost is unilaterally applied across relevant options. Air travel costs are up and maybe not at dependable as they once were due to labor shortages and inconveniences created by these issues. After numerous road trips there are certain realizations about RV travel vs SUV road trips that I have come to realize. RV travel requires more planning, even for a basic road trip. RV travel doesn’t offer as much flexibility in your daily itinerary.

    However, there are plusses to RV travel as mentioned. You’re always in your own space, bed, bath, kitchen etc. Pets are easier to manage. Lastly, campers are generally friendly and very social.

    These are just my thoughts but are based on over ten years and 100,000 miles of road traveling over 46 states for extended periods up to 30 days per excursion.

  13. A sign that more people can’t afford a real house. So, buy an RV and live in that. They perceive it as cheaper based on the initial purchase amount. In the long run, doubt it.

  14. It not all great. How many people buy an RV to have it in the dealers shop for the first few weeks or even months waiting on repairs. It is not just a part supply issue but dealers have not expanded their service capabilities to match the increase in sales. Many have felt that service at dealers has been poor for years and it has gotten worse.

    If you have a diesel getting the chassis worked on isn’t easy either. For example we are in the Miami/Orlando area having DEF sensor issues but the Cummins and Freightliner service areas are slow to return calls if at all. The best we have gotten is to dropoff the RV and the shop will call in a week or so. The isn’t acceptable if you are traveling the country.

    Since many campgrounds are full. If one wants a spot, reservations in advance are necessary especially on weekends and holidays. But what happens if there is a breakdown and you need to cancel the reservation. More campgrounds are refusing to refund deposits or prepayments.

    My wife and I have camped in 49 states and 6 provinces over the last 10 years. It is still enjoyable but is getting more difficult. We have camped in BLM, COE, City, Country, and State Parks, very high end resorts and ones at the other end of the spectrum not to mention Walmart parking lots.

    Both sides of the story need to be discussed.

  15. I’m not sure who or whom told you that fuel prices are not sufficiently affecting most RVers plans, must be living in a dream world. Get out from behind your desk and talk to the RVers that are staying home or close to home

  16. Owning an RV and using it are 2 different issues. My wife and I have owned several RVs during our 32 years together. In the past it was simply driving for a few hours a day and there were camping facilities everywhere. Now we don’t consider a trip without firm reservations for every day on the road. Carefree camping is just a long ago memory.

  17. Not a great time to sell your used RV right now. Maybe 6 months ago but now with gas and fuel being so expensive and campgrounds being booked full people who bought the last couple of years are trying to unload them. Got a great deal on a newer one from a private owner but now our older one sits with 300 others on Craigslist and Marketplace.

  18. I certainly hope that all can be kept well for the rv industry in general and across the board, from the manufacturer to the dealers, their service departments and for all the merchants who depend upon rv traffic. Gas and diesel prices will negatively impact travel; afraid this is inevitable. Spoke recently to an rv campground owner who has seen a 25 percent reduction in traffic. As full time rv’ers with a diesel tow vehicle and a fixed income fuel prices just hit number two, second only to all insurance carried, in terms of monthly expenses. Routing now between stops has risen in importance. Fewer side trips between main destinations.

  19. In the 5 years of owning a Class B motorhome and traveling 41,000 miles, I can confidently tell you that you’re not saying 20 % off an alternative vacation, but, you’re definitely having a “different experience” in the RV. It costs about the same, actually, maybe slightly more in the RV when you factor in repairs, maintenance, registration and insurance and fuel.

    The big difference is that you’re like the pilot of your own “star ship” and you can go anywhere anytime you want provided you can find a place to land for the night.

    It’s definitely easier to do with a Class B motorhome.

    The only thing is that you need to understand that there’s going to be unscheduled stops along the way…. it’s not uncommon for an occasional breakdown. Be sure you have a great roadside assistance service. I just switched to Coach Net because the AAA Premier RV whittled down their services and left me up in the air. You don’t want your RV to be disabled in a remote location. Be safe and prepared for anything. Good luck.

  20. I work in the rv industry we are only working 4 days a week to much inventory at the dealers they can’t sell them we are getting a week off every other month

  21. It should be mentioned that there are a greater number of people/ families living in RV’s, staying in parks as there semi permanent residents. many are in the construction Industry. I believe this sector will continue to grow as will the number of parks. I base this on their cost, it’s more economical and flexible. It meets the needs of a large number of individuals and families because it’s less expensive.

  22. And because of all this, campgrounds are now over crowded, over booked and full of loud, disrespectful and rude people who have no camping etiquette. I can’t even reserve a site to save my life so I can go decompress. It now raises my anxiety an frustration rather than allowing me an affordable and peaceful experience. I agree with what someone said about how quickly and cheaply units are being built to satisfy demand. I would not by any unit build post pandemic. Buy used, pre 2018. I will stick with my 2013 unit if I don’t decide to sell due to risings costs and money greedy campgrounds. It has quickly become an expensive and unpleasant experience to go camping now and if the trend continues, I will be getting out of something I have looked forward to and enjoyed all my life. This article is the complete opposite of what I am experiencing and a sales pitch.

  23. i am getting ready to retire, and would live to buy a “bigger” unit looking at a montana 281 ck big enough for just me and short so i can get in where ever i want.
    but the dealers want too much for them. so i get to wait till the market corrects it’s self. or a good one (bugs worked out) comes onto the used market.
    and having to live on much less income. fuel prices do hurt.

  24. no matter how high or low the gas prices, RV-ing is not cheap if we want to do it the ‘ideal’ way, especially if we want to do it long term or full time … but yes, if we have at least $1`000 a month that we can solely allocate to various expenses of RV-ing and camping and so on, then we can do it …

  25. It’s too bad that America is in this situation, but ridiculously high gas prices will hurt the RV industry. It will take some time, but it will happen. If these high gas prices continue, it’s going to hurt the economy,  country and RV industry. The sad fact is that this mess has been created by this administration and there will not be a turn around until we vote these climate alarmists out of the white house.

  26. It’s too bad that America is in this situation, but ridiculously high gas prices will hurt the RV industry. It will take time, but it will happen. If these high gas prices continue, it’s going to hurt the economy, country and RV industry. The sad fact is that this mess has been created by this administration and there will not be a turn around until we get these climate alarmists out of the white house.

  27. RV,s are being made so fast they are coming with so many problems. Not put together right and not guaranteed of workmanship

    1. I agree!!! We are experiencing this right now. Bubbled roof, spongy floor and can see daylight where the curved front meets the side wall. Manufacturer refuses to address any of it.

  28. I would focus on RV’s being registered, not by what the Mfg is shipping to the dealers. If the dealer cannot sell, then the Mfg will cut back on production….which is forecasted the rest of this year.

    1. The are counting units when they are retail sold to customers, hence “registrations” . The leading firm is Statistical Surveys.
      Rarely does a manufacturer take back units. Usually only in the case of the dealer no longer represents that particular brand. That is on a state by state basis and how they are governed by a franchise agreement.

  29. …… Try and find a spot! …. in Canada anyway …. Terrible reservation system in Provincial campgrounds.

  30. Really? Diesel is over 6 and most people are trying to keep up. This sounds like a sales promotion for the RV industry who has jacked up prices and quality in the toilet. Thor became a mega manufacturer because the others where sinking .
    I am sure u will disagree.

    1. I completely agree. The quality is pure garbage. The after sale service is also pure garbage. And, finally…the prices are way out of line, (super high). We are keeping our 2015 which we purchased new.

    2. I agree. J.ust bought a new North Trail , Thor is the parent company , replaced my 10 yr old trailer that had 100 trips on it. Quality of this trailer is amazing and I got a great deal on it too.

    1. US experience is very similar to Australia, RV purchases and use is going ballistic. We have everything from Super C’s to Expedition Motorhomes. Vast majority are in Caravans and unlike the US, many of these are Off Road or Dirt Road models, from a vast number of manufacturers

  31. o to the skyrocketing price of diesel and gas I think you will find more people camping closser to home. I read the other day for, for the first tine the price of fuel is surpassing the price of campgrounds.

      1. Speaking of quality my new 429 keystone raptor from camping world worst purchase I have ever made have had several 5th wheels this is a 21 still at camping world for warranty work haven’t used it yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content