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New Survey Shows RV Market Attracting Buyers Despite the Economy

Jason Houle, 36, of Greenfield, Mass., thought about buying an RV for a long time. He finally pulled the trigger last spring.

“For the past eight years, I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to buy a camper, I’m going to buy a camper,’” says Houle. “Even though the economy was an issue, I asked myself, ‘What am I waiting for?’ So I bought a folding camping trailer in May. I got a killer deal.”

As the RV industry celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, manufacturers and dealers are seeing more first-time buyers like Houle. According to the RVIA’s latest Campfire Canvass survey, 16% of the respondents said they bought their first RV during the past year. This is an increase over last year, when 12% of the respondents said they were first-time buyers.  

Not only are more new buyers coming into the RV market, the survey also suggests that seasoned RV owners are still as passionate as ever about RVing, even in these difficult economic times. For example:

• 34% of RV owners plan to travel more this fall/winter than last year, 56% plan to travel the same amount and only 10% plan to travel less. 
• 40% are considering another purchase, with 21.8% looking to buy in the next year and 43.9% within the next two years.
• RVers traveled 26 days this spring/summer compared to just 11 days for non-RVers.     

Among the survey respondents, 90% cited the affordability of RVing as a major benefit to owning an RV.

Houle and his wife, Shahanna, appreciate the economic benefits of RVing. “We have six kids and we love to camp,” says Houle, who works for a metal recycling company. “The RV allows us to do it affordably. We can cook onboard and we have plenty of sleeping space for the whole family.”

A vast majority of RV owners share the view about the value RVs offer. According to the survey, 79% of owners say they save between 15 and 75% by traveling in their RVs. This is consistent with a study by international travel and tourism experts PKF Consulting, which found that family RV trips are, on average, 27 to 61% less expensive than other types of vacations.

According to the Campfire Canvass survey, RV owners will use their RVs in a variety of ways during the fall/winter travel season.

• 62% of respondents said they plan to sightsee.
• 58% visit state parks and 49 percent national parks.
• 40% attend festival/fairs.
• 33% participate in foliage tours.

The survey also indicates that RVers will be traveling this holiday season. Thirty-eight percent said they plan to travel over Thanksgiving weekend and 20% during the Christmas/Hanukkah season.

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