In a pandemic, SUVs and vans just weren't enough for many people.
Winnebago Industries said Wednesday its profit during the winter quarter was five times higher than a year ago, and sales were up 34% as more people decided to hit the road in recreational vehicles.
"Strong retail demand, low field inventory, and record committed dealer orders set the table for continued robust performance," Mike Happe, the company's chief executive, said. But he added, "We also believe there is secular and ongoing growth in outdoor lifestyle products as consumer priorities have changed due to the pandemic."
The fastest growth was not in giant RVs that haul families and retirees on weekslong trips, but in products that are used on shorter getaways.
Winnebago's towable product segment had a 55% jump in sales, while the motor home segment rose 17.5%.
Consumers showed the strongest interest in Winnebago brand Class B motor homes, such as the Solis, Revel and Travato models. These models are 21 feet long or shorter and sleep two to four people.
Happe noticed an increase in interest in the RV lifestyle even before the pandemic.
"There was already momentum before it was disrupted last March," he said in an interview. "We do believe the challenging pandemic times really caused families and individuals to search for safe, healthy experiences and caused people to reevaluate their priorities."
After so many people were introduced or reintroduced to outdoor pursuits, Winnebago and other companies that specialize in outdoor activities are looking for ways to keep them.
"All of us collectively in the RV and marine industries need to work as hard as we can to satisfy the new customers that have come into our lifestyles. We believe a majority of them will maintain a presence in the lifestyle in some way," Happe said.
Check out the full article from the Star Tribune here.