The U.S. RVs industry posted record revenues and shipments in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumers sought ways to vacation safely. This was a major turning point and stimulus for the industry, as a new and younger demographic was introduced to the RV lifestyle.
However, this pace was not sustainable and RV shipments and sales began to decline in 2022. This decline continues into 2023, as RV prices and demand fall, but it is being mitigated as customers are now pursuing RV rentals, used vehicles, and RV sharing. The industry is susceptible to boom and bust cycles, as RVs are discretionary purchases that can be postponed or cancelled. The outlook over the next four years is good, as RV parks grow in number.
In the United States, about 85 percent of recreational vehicles sold are manufactured in Indiana, and roughly two-thirds of that production in Elkhart County, which calls itself “the RV Capital of the World.”
Top Things to Know About the Recreational Vehicles Sector
- RV Industry Size: Marketdata estimates that the RVs industry had record revenues of $52.6 billion in 2021, a 33% increase over 2020. This was atypical, fueled by the pandemic. The 9-year growth rate for RV dealer sales was 26.7% from 2012 to 2021. The industry is returning to more historical growth rates and is forecast to grow 6.2% per year from 2022 to 2027.
- 2023 Outlook: Sales of RVs are declining as prices fall and dealers work through their large inventories. Rising interest rates and economic uncertainty will continue to act as headwinds. The RV sector relies heavily on consumers’ affordability. A 10.3% sales decline is forecast for this year.
- Boom and Bust Cycles: This industry’s three major downturns since 2000 have been linked to MAJOR events: 1) 9/11 terrorist attack on NY City and Washington DC, 2) The Great Recession of 2008-2009, and 3) the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s highly unlikely that over the next four years, we would be faced with downturns in the economy of this magnitude.
- RVs Are Popular among Consumers: As of March 2021, 11.3 million households owned an RV — a 26 percent increase over the past ten years. Generation X and Baby Boomers make up the majority of RV owners, and those aged between 35-54 are the most likely to own an RV. The average owner has an income of $68,000.
- Competitive Market: The industry consists of 2,800 retail RV dealers and nearly 4,900 RV parks and campgrounds, that employ a combined 76,700 workers. RV manufacturers employ another 11,373 workers.
- RV Operations: The average RV dealer retail “establishment” (office, branch, physical site) had estimated receipts of $12.78 million in 2020, up 32% from 2017. The average RV park “establishment” had estimated receipts of $840,000 in 2020, up 22.8% from 2017. In 2020, the states with the largest number of RV dealer establishments included: California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, in that order.
Where to Learn More
To access more information, be sure to read the newly published 87-page report The U.S. Recreational Vehicle Industry: RV Manufacturers, Dealers, and RV Parks, which includes customer demographics, key industry statistics and trends, market sizing and growth forecasts, performance analysis, sales data, RV shipment metrics, and competitor profiles.
About the Author: John LaRosa is the President of Marketdata LLC and is the author of 100+ industry and market studies. His research appears in top media outlets including ABC, CNN, Fox, Forbes, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and a variety of trade journals.