Consumer confidence may be down, but RVer confidence remains high, according to the biannual Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners, conducted by the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said they intend to use their RVs more this spring and summer than last year, and 45 percent are considering another purchase.
Only 4 percent said they'll use their RVs less this year. Three-fourths said they planned to take more mini-vacations so they can escape stress, spend more quality time with family, and enjoy nature and other outdoor activities.
In the survey, conducted for the RVIA by Zarca Surveys, of Herndon, Va., 425 respondents distributed as evenly as possible across the North, South, East, and West gave their views. The survey had a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
A primary reason why so many RVers will be travelingand even buying RVsthis year is that they appreciate the value they get compared when traveling in their RVs with flying, driving, and staying in hotels, the survey found. Eighty-six percent said they consider RVing an affordable way to travel, and three-fourths said they save at least 25 percent when they travel in an RV, while more than a quarter save 35 percent to 50 percent. Those results echo the findings of a study by international travel and tourism experts PKF Consulting, which found family RV trips are 27 percent to 61 percent less expensive than other types of vacations.
"RV travel continues to appeal to people looking to save money and cut costs," says Richard Coon, president of RVIA. "By having their homes-on-wheels with them, RV owners receive a bigger bang for their buck than other types of vacations offer."
Meanwhile, 68 percent of RV owners said they believe this is good time to buy an RV, with 94 percent of those respondents saying good deals are available. Buyers who meet income requirements also will be able to take advantage of the new federal stimulus plan that provides for a deduction of sales and excise taxes on the first $49,500 of a new motor home purchase.
Tim Lundy, 40, of Feasterville, Pa., is a recent RV buyer who took advantage of the market to get what he believes is a good deal. The Philadelphia Electric Co. employee bought a 40-foot 2009 fifth-wheel trailer, an upgrade from a 28-foot travel trailer.
"I shopped for several months, and there's definitely a lot of great buying opportunities out there," says Lundy.
According to the survey, 45 percent of RVers are considering another RV purchase.
Thirty-four percent of survey respondents said they have attended RV shows this year, helping generate surprisingly robust attendance and strong sales. More than 44,000 visited the Florida RV Super Show, 35,000 came out for the Utah RV Show, and 30,000 showed up for the Maryland RV show. Dealers at the shows reported that people weren't just looking at RVs, but were buying them, too.
Tim DeWitt, executive director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds, says attendance at the recent Flint Camper & RV Show was up 25 percent over last year.
"This is a buyer's market," he says. "You can negotiate with dealers, who are discounting heavily."
When RVers hit the road this year, state and national parks will be among the most popular destinations. Seventy-seven percent of the survey respondents said they'll visit state parks, while 64 percent will visit national parks. Favorite activities while on the road include sightseeing, grilling or cookouts, hiking or walking, attending festivals and fairs, visiting theme parks, and going to family reunions.
RVers also plan to be on the move during major holidays, with 58 percent planning to travel over Memorial Day weekend and 60 percent over July 4th.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association represents about 500 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the U.S.
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