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Old 09-23-2021, 06:26 AM   #1
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RV Death Spiral 2016, It's Not New

Found this collection of articles, RV Industry Death Spiral, on the Fiberglass RV Forum. Even though it was published in 2016 it gives insight on what's happening to the RV industry today.

Forgive me if this has been posted previously.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 09-23-2021, 10:56 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
Found this collection of articles, RV Industry Death Spiral, on the Fiberglass RV Forum. Even though it was published in 2016 it gives insight on what's happening to the RV industry today.

Forgive me if this has been posted previously.

Enjoy,

Perry
All those things listed in that 2016 article have been magnified 5 years later, no wonder ETI has supply problems etc.
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Old 09-23-2021, 02:47 PM   #3
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Wow. It pained me to read this but it allowed me to connect a lot of dots and I see why the RV industry is so bad now.

My own personal anecdotes as related to some of the authors main topics...
Dealers drop the ball on service:
The RV service industry needs to be bolstered with more techs and better training. It is sad that I had to study the schematics, diagnose and fix the 25’ slide on my neighbors Winnebago Adventurer Class A when the shop (Camping World ) improperly diagnosed the problem. Many dealers wouldn't even look at it or were so busy it would have been there for weeks until they caught up with their "customers" rigs. Only one tech at Winnebago (that you pay to speak to) provided any decent information. It shouldn’t have to be this hard to get decent work done by a shop. It would probably still be broken today if we didn't fix it. I see RV mobile repair services becoming a boom for enterprising individuals.

Campgrounds losing capacity:
I sense this more and more. There is a carrying capacity of existing campgrounds that are being limited now by seasonal campsites and cabins/park models for rent. These campgrounds are also offering more amenities and pushing up prices. The lack of space and higher prices is pushing people over to other camping areas such that the pressure is increasing during peak season. This is making reservations harder and harder to make without planning well in advance. Even in campgrounds without utilities. To get a waterfront site in July at a nearby state campground I usually have to book in February. To visit Assateauge Island in Maryland in June I had to book a year in advance. No hookups at either.

RV owners share the blame:
When a buddy of mine was shopping for an RV I pointed out a like-new Escape 21 to him for $40K. He wasn't interested in spending that much for something used a few weeks a year even if it would last a lifetime. He spent half as much for a bigger trailer and will now deal with the inevitable problems that a Jayco stick-built will have. My other buddy already had his front seams split open on a few year old Jayco that necessitated a $1200 repair.

I recently spoke to a new neighbor with a newer Rockwood trailer made by Forest River who proclaimed, "I can't believe how expensive these things are and they are such crap."

We need to speak with our wallets folks!
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Old 09-23-2021, 03:17 PM   #4
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We need to speak with our wallets folks!
Yes, and there is the problem. I wonder if a lot of the issue is that a sizable fraction of RV buyers are first time buyers. They already think an RV is an awfully big expense, and they don't understand just how godawful the regular RVs are.

Second round buyers buy something else, or stick with what they have and fix it up. I'm buying an Escape because I've already owned a Rockwood. Once was enough. And even so, I can't escape the race to the bottom because standard RV appliances have come through the race to the bottom and won.

It's very different from the car market. Cars today cost a lot more than they used to (inflation adjusted) but they are also much better value. Cars from the 1970s were slow, inefficient, unreliable, and biodegradeable. Part of what made cars better was regulation, but part was consumer pressure. Why the difference.

Anyway, the other difference with cars is that the regular middle class and below are basically no longer new car buyers. Rich people buy new cars, and less rich people buy used cars. This ends up working out because cars last so much longer than they used to. But it is also why you don't see much available in the market that is 'cheap' anymore. People that used to buy a low cost compact have moved into the used market.
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Old 09-23-2021, 05:11 PM   #5
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Yes, and there is the problem. I wonder if a lot of the issue is that a sizable fraction of RV buyers are first time buyers. They already think an RV is an awfully big expense, and they don't understand just how godawful the regular RVs are.

Second round buyers buy something else, or stick with what they have and fix it up. I'm buying an Escape because I've already owned a Rockwood. Once was enough. And even so, I can't escape the race to the bottom because standard RV appliances have come through the race to the bottom and won.

It's very different from the car market. Cars today cost a lot more than they used to (inflation adjusted) but they are also much better value. Cars from the 1970s were slow, inefficient, unreliable, and biodegradeable. Part of what made cars better was regulation, but part was consumer pressure. Why the difference.

Anyway, the other difference with cars is that the regular middle class and below are basically no longer new car buyers. Rich people buy new cars, and less rich people buy used cars. This ends up working out because cars last so much longer than they used to. But it is also why you don't see much available in the market that is 'cheap' anymore. People that used to buy a low cost compact have moved into the used market.
You are right and the other thing about the car market is that at least it is somewhat regulated. I know, not perfect not by a long stretch but there are laws .. If I was capable, I could build my own RV in my backyard and sell it even with appliances and sell it.
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Old 09-23-2021, 05:41 PM   #6
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Manufacturers that depends upon repeat customers (cars and motorcycles, for example) could not survive this sort of quality degradation. One thing that might work in the favor of RV manufacturers, though is that RV builders might not be in it for repeat customers.

I have known quite a few folks who bought a trailer or MH only to have it fail them in repeated minor and/or major ways who ended up feeling burned and cut their losses never to try again. It would be interesting to see how many first time RV buyers also end up being last time buyers.

When I recently sold my Airstream Basecamp, I had to almost beat off buyers with a stick. Nearly all of the ones I communicated with in any depth were first time buyers. Few had done much homework other than what they saw on YouTube influencer sites and many had cash ready to buy.

It seems like the predominant marking strategy for the main stick built trailer and MH manufacturers today was originally coined by P.T. Barnum.
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Old 09-23-2021, 06:02 PM   #7
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Manufacturers that depends upon repeat customers (cars and motorcycles, for example) could not survive this sort of quality degradation. One thing that might work in the favor of RV manufacturers, though is that RV builders might not be in it for repeat customers.

I have known quite a few folks who bought a trailer or MH only to have it fail them in repeated minor and/or major ways who ended up feeling burned and cut their losses never to try again. It would be interesting to see how many first time RV buyers also end up being last time buyers.
To your point one of the things highlighted in the article is that RV owning households were supposedly 9 million in 1997 and 9 million in 2016. That equilibrium suggests that on average just as many people are getting into RVing as getting out. Either the data is bad or this also means trailers are being junked at an astounding rate if almost 5.7 million RV’s were manufactured during that timeframe!
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Old 09-23-2021, 06:15 PM   #8
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Either the data is bad or this also means trailers are being junked at an astounding rate if almost 5.7 million RV’s were manufactured during that timeframe!
I think they are being junked. I junked a 2010 model in 2020. A guy I work with junked a 2007 model in 2015. That's a direct result of indifferent build quality mated to a design that catastrophically fails (rot of organic structural members) under the most likely failure mode (leaks). The vast majority of RV's a built with a design that makes no sense.
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Old 09-23-2021, 06:21 PM   #9
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I sense this more and more. There is a carrying capacity of existing campgrounds that are being limited now by seasonal campsites and cabins/park models for rent. These campgrounds are also offering more amenities and pushing up prices. The lack of space and higher prices is pushing people over to other camping areas such that the pressure is increasing during peak season.
My first hot take was, don't care. I'm often backcountry camping from a boat or backpack, and when I'm RV-ing I'm staying in the most out-of-the way places I can find with no amenities.

But you are right, as the 'resorts' close and fill, it's pushing more and more people into my places.

When I was a kid, my dad was a teacher. I spent my summers travelling the country in a station wagon and camping in tents. My dad never made reservations. It wasn't even a thing in the 1980's. We just found a place and camped. Ironically, one place we hit that was hard to get into was Assateague Island. Even in the 1980's they had a lottery for sites. We got one. It's a tough place to camp in tents, and a horse ate my sandwich.
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