Recreational vehicles have become a popular commodity in western Colorado primarily due to the ease of access to outdoor activities and camping.
According to a report, amid many industries struggling throughout the pandemic, RV dealers maintained their sales despite the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
“Just like everyone else, we were taken aback when everything shut down, but quickly people realized that one of the things you can do during a pandemic is getting outdoors. It ended up being a great time for us. It hasn’t slowed down for us, and we’re dead even with last year, which was a record year, as was the year before that,” said Brad Carver, general manager at Centennial RV.
Bob Scott RVs reported similar results and claimed that they too had experienced a high demand for campers over the past few years. However, inventory is one of the significant issues these dealers have encountered.
Chris Bratager, sales manager at Bob Scott RVs, attributes a lower production rate caused by the pandemic to the weakened inventory on their lot, which makes the impression that the lot is always empty.
“Inventory has improved, though. It’s better now than it was,” Bratager said.
“Manufacturers have had to adjust their approach because of the pandemic, but they’re starting to get caught up again. Manufacturers have had to focus more on products that people were buying a lot of, which in turn helped us out. It got us our inventory in time. Still not like it used to be, but slowly improving.”
Paul Roach, manager at Humphrey RV, says inventory is a major challenge, particularly for smaller dealers. At Humphrey, they’ve only gotten back to an inventory they’re content with after this past winter. However, Roach thinks it’ll be challenging to replenish units as fast as possible in the coming high season.
Roach states that while they’ve been able to survive amid the pandemic, inventory was one of the biggest hurdles.
“The industry basically ran out of product. There was hardly any inventory for the entire nation. The supply chain issues meant that we were selling RVs as fast as they were coming onto our lot. We did grow right through the pandemic, though, it was two record years, in fact,” Roach said.
The inventory has been rebounding for some dealers.
“Our inventory is great. We’ve been fortunate, more so than a lot of other dealers, in fact. We kept a really good flow of inventory, even though we got a little low at one point, we were selling stuff before it even hit a lot, so we always had stuff to sell,” said Brad Carver of Centennial RV.
One of the major points that persisted during the pandemic’s peak was the market for used RVs.
The three local dealers stated that the used RV market was extremely hot, particularly at the height of the pandemic.
“The used sales market has definitely been the strongest point right there. We’ve been doing a lot of reaching out to the public and buying a lot of trailers from people to bump inventory. It’s definitely the hottest thing going. People were looking for value, and they found a lot of it in the used market for sure,” Bratager said.
Carver said that the used market got famous because of the lack of availability of the new stuff. As the demand was so high, when someone couldn’t find a new RV, they’d find a used one and jump on that, so the used market has been especially strong lately.
Carver has also added that even with higher gas prices, he doesn’t believe it has affected people’s desire to purchase an RV.
“People have been concerned about gas, but dealers are in an unusual situation here in this town. Within 100 miles, there’s so much to do from here for camping. We have so many places nearby, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money on gas,” Carver said.
“That might be why we haven’t struggled because we live in a really great place to go camping on the weekends.”
This story originally appeared on The Daily Sentinel.