Oliver Travel Trailers

The Pandemic Effect: How COVID-19 Sparked a Surge in the RV Industry

covid created buying boom rv travel trailer industry
By: Oliver
May 1, 2020

COVID has brought significant changes to the world as we know it and has clearly affected the travel industry. Much to our surprise, this has led to an increase in travel trailer sales. Bloomberg has noted the rise in sales attributed to COVID-19 and calls them “COVID Campers.” Usually, the sale of travel trailers and similar recreational vehicles would mark the end and the beginning of recessions, but COVID has changed the pattern. The typical pattern is that sales fall as one begins and rise right before we come out of it, but currently, trailer sales are increasing as we enter the worst economic squeeze since 1929. One insight as to why COVID is different than normal recessions for this industry is how, according to a Kampgrounds of American Inc. Survey, people now consider camping the safest form of vacation in North America. Another survey by MMGY says that 68% of people feel safe traveling in a personal vehicle compared to 18% saying the same for domestic flights and 11% for international. Since many travel plans have been canceled due to the presence of COVID, many people who still want to travel have looked toward RVs for safe ways to get out of the house while being socially distant.

Though wanting to travel and not stay cooped inside is a common reason for the uptick in trailers, some people use them to further isolate themselves from the public so they run less of a risk of catching COVID. This is a perfect option for those who are extra worried because their RVs or trailers can easily be used as home offices, providing a sense of adaptability and empowerment. For those who are still meant to work “at home,” RVs offer a flexible and safe solution. People are able to keep their family close, while maintaining a safe distance, especially from those friends and family that are older or present a higher risk of catching and suffering from the virus.

The RV industry is also seeing significant growth in RV rentals as well. This can come from the need for people to travel home from flights they took pre-COVID or other reasons for one-way, long-distance travel. Some people are moving their children into colleges that are across the country by RV or even people returning home from a period of working remotely. Another reason that trailers are on the rise is the crucial role they play in supporting essential workers. The government may be using them to help support these workers, especially those in the medical and similar fields. In California, 1300 RVs were authorized by the government to be purchased for COVID-19 protection use. This is a testament to the appreciation and support for these workers, ensuring they don’t have the possibility of giving the virus to their family members or roommates and other house members.

What It Means for You

covid sparks rv sales growth
The extreme increase in travel trailer sales can serve as a problem for current and longtime owners: camping and RV spaces will be limited. 

Since travel trailing and RVing are some of the safest options to allow people to travel or be off the grid, that means that spaces at popular campsites and campsites, in general, will be more than full. In California alone, the state and national parks saw a 77% increase in camping reservations. KOA bookings across the country had their reservations being filled more than the cancellations that occurred. If you are currently an RV or trailer owner, you have to prepare for popular sites to be complete for the possibility of a full calendar year. If you want to take an RV for a spin, you may need more time! Some companies have had to stop manufacturing or even shut down their rentals depending on your state’s laws and reactions to COVID. You also may run out of opportunities to rent because of the many rentals that can sell out! Planning is even more vital around COVID-19 times, so it is best to prepare in every way possible to make your plans bulletproof.

What to Do to Prepare

planning for camping ahead of time

The best way to prepare is to make sure that you book your campsites ahead of time. It is never a good idea to drive up to a campsite and hope they have space for you. Though that works for some, people are always at risk of not making it to an actual park and may have to drive further to find an available one. This can be dangerous because it could mean driving tired, which is never safe and can have disastrous consequences.

Check out the blog post Planning for Camping Ahead of Time for more information on the best practices for planning and preparing for a camping trip in the US during COVID-19.

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