RV Shipments Hit Highest Levels in 2020

The pandemic has transformed the classic family summer vacation. More families are choosing an RV to responsibly distance while traveling.

Family Vacations Have Changed

Most of us love our road trips. Seeking adventure while bonding with our families on the open road is at once exhilarating and refreshing, where the journey itself is as important as the destination. The ongoing pandemic has thrown a wrench into those journeys — except for those who have an RV.

The RV industry appears to be weathering the COVID-19 storm better than most; June 2020 was the industry’s best for sales in more than 18 months. According to a report released in July from the RV Industry Association, more than 40,000 new RVs were sold in the month, an 11 percent increase in sales over last June.

While overall RV sales are down for the year, due in part to factory and dealership shutdowns in much of the country, this rebound shows Americans are still seeking to get away with their families.

What Kind of RV Is Selling?

Most shoppers seem to be looking for RVs that can be towed by the vehicle they already have in their garage. The majority of sales were towable RVs like conventional travel trailers, such as our restored 1972 Avion Camper.

The report also notes strong gains in more affordable segments of the RV industry. Folding/pop-up style campers, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to tow with smaller vehicles, have been selling well. The Class B segment, the smallest of motorhomes based on full-sized vans, has proven popular with young people motivated by the #Vanlife lifestyle showcased on social media. Class B motorhomes sales have grown by a whopping 90.2 percent compared to last June.

What Isn’t Selling Well?

Considering the uncertainty of the economy during the various states of lockdown, it’s not surprising that larger motorhomes are not selling well. Sales of Class A motorhomes dropped by 19.9 percent year-over-year.

What About Hotels?

One travel industry segment feeling the pinch is the hotel industry. While travelers either eschew travel altogether or move to alternatives like RVs, hotels are struggling. Social distancing and travel bans have, in the words of one hotel industry publication, given hotels “the lowest occupancy rates since 9/11.” While hotels are trying to regroup and pivot to new markets — some are renting rooms to workers who can’t go to an office but still need high-speed internet — fewer leisure travelers are checking in.

Chris Tonn
A lifelong Ohioan, Chris grew up around classic rusty sports cars from Japan and England. He's been covering the automotive industry for nearly 10 years, and is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). A family man, Chris drives a Chrysler minivan, and uses his rusty old Miata as a shelf, until the day it is uncovered as a priceless barn find.