RV manufacturers anticipate shipping a record-breaking 446,000 recreational vehicles in 2017, up from last year’s 430,691, which was also a record. But what has instigated such growth?
The members of the last wave of Baby Boomers are approaching retirement age, and are handing over the working-class reins to the Millennials. In the past, the RV industry has relied on retirees to push growth, but a paradigm shift is happening, and there is another group that is sliding over into the driver’s seat.
It’s the Millennial generation that is expected to drive RV shipments to their highest level ever, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. In fact, shipments of new RVs are forecasted to surge to their highest peak in history this year, almost doubling since 2008. Sales in the first quarter rose by 11.7%, which is strongly indicative that it’s going to be another record-breaking year. This marks the eighth consecutive year of gains.
KOA reports that despite the fact that the Millennials make up 38% of campers, they only account for 31% of the general population. According to KOA Campground owner, Christopher Wood, “What we’re starting to see is the older Millennials (those born in the early 80s). They’re coming here … to the festivals, the cheese festivals, the wine and beer festivals, and they’re coming here to the campgrounds for their families and kids, and all the kids’ activities that we do.”
Gone are the days that RVing was traditionally only enjoyed by the retired folks who set out to travel across the U.S., living the complete RV lifestyle. That is still a very pertinent demographic, but now younger folks want to join in on this addictive behavior. The big difference between the two groups is that the Millennials tend to want to go camping on weekends; they don’t necessarily want to change their entire lifestyle. In addition, they are realizing that RVs are great for more than just camping; they serve so many other purposes like attending local festivals and competitions, music festivals, sporting events, and any other form of entertainment that may require an enclosed, luxurious place to lay one’s head at night! These Millennials want to recreate without investing heavily, which makes renting an RV from Cruise America very attractive to them.
The number one player in the RV manufacturing game is Thor Industries. According to Thor’s most recent earnings report, their sales bounded 56.9% to $2.02 billion from last year. This may be due, in part, to Thor’s acquisition of Jayco (the number 3 player in the industry), but experts indicate that it’s the onslaught of Millennial interests that have spurred such a substantial rise in industry numbers. In addition, Thor’s stock has experienced a growth of almost 40% over the last year.
As the industry continues to grow, so does Cruise America. We are always expanding our inventory, selling off some of our used units to make room for the new models. We applaud all of our customers who realize the savings and convenience of traveling in one of our top-notch class C motorhomes. And, we applaud our Millennials, as they continue to recognize the joy and memory-making opportunities that come with RV travel.
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