RV Industry Update – mid-2023

A mid-year report on the latest happenings in the RV world with a focus on the RV sales market and some insights on future trends…

I have a lot to report to you, much of it directly from my “front line” experience with my Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service experiences. MOST of my clients over the past few months have been SELLERS. That alone should tell you something! I do see an occasional buyer now and then, and when I do, I negotiate hard for them to get what I call “bottom dollar pricing.”

Summer life in east Idaho at the Rigby RV Park

Some sellers have come to an understanding that the RV market has basically collapsed, others are yet to arrive at this inevitable conclusion.

The RV sales collapse can be seen from many angles

I hear from colleagues in the industry, all of whom are “singing the same tune” – mostly sellers, few buyers. As I note in my video above, there are some exceptions. RV owners who have a quality product can still get a reasonable sum for their camper, and in some cases, even more than JD Power “book value.” Owners of Outdoors RV, Newmar, and Carriage are just 3 examples of manufacturers who made a product that is holding up well against the surrounding apocalypse.

RV Life: Jefferson Lake on July 1 before the fireworks – storm rolling in!

When I say collapse in RV sales, here’s just one set of data from one (major) manufacturer:

Winnebago Industries revenue reported for the fiscal 2023 third quarter that ended May 27 was $900.8 million, down 38.2% from $1.5 billion from fiscal 2022. This was driven by lower unit sales because of RV retail market conditions and higher discounts and allowances from 2022, partially offset by carryover price increases. Gross profit was $151.4 million, down 44.5% from $273.0 million in fiscal 2022. Gross profit margin decreased 16.8%. (Source: rvtravel.com)

Rigby Classic Cars July 8 – small town RV life!

I believe that Winnebago is a bell-weather in the RV industry. As Winnebago goes, so goes the overall industry.

Need more data? Shipments of ’22 vs ’23 models are down around 50%! And sales are down *at least* 20% at many dealers and for the reasons I share below. Further, I believe sales figures will get much worse as we head into autumn and winter.

Consider what the world was like when these cars rolled off the assembly line!

RV Sales are DOWN. Here are several reasons for the change over the past year or so…

  • (Individual) Credit card debt is at record levels – and interest rates now average 24% on credit card accounts. It appears that some credit card users are never going to pay off their debt at these rates!
  • Inflation continues to rage – especially in the things we NEED (eg: Food, rent/mortgage costs…) Every increase diminishes the “discretionary income” Americans have typically enjoyed since the end of WWII.
  • More rate increases seem likely from the Fed. Thus, RV loan rates will rise further (for excellent credit, they’re already nearing 8-9%). And for those who believe the Fed will reverse and lower rates later this year… I believe it will prove to be too little, too late to prevent what’s coming. Thus, I differ from Josh “the RV nerd” on YouTube where he states that he and the RVIA (RV Industry Association) believe that the decline in RV sales will turn around late this year or early next year.
  • Campground fees are way up (for now) – but this too will likely correct as many stop RV’ing or find more economical ways to RV travel. I see no signs of fuel prices decreasing and would not be shocked if further jumps in fuel costs occur. If and when this happens, many RV’ers will further curtail their travels.
  • Bank repos are up. I have no personal experience of this yet, but I make this statement based upon increase in car and truck repos that I have seen evidence of. Repos add to the existing used inventory, further depressing prices.
  • By this time of year, the ’23’s should be on “closeout.” As of July 7, 2023, RVtrader shows 26,743 brand new 2022 RV’s (all types) are still available. That’s 2022 models!! This at a time when dealers would normally be looking to clear out ’23’s!!
  • Widespread layoffs and bank failures do not make for confident RV owners causing many to sell (and few to buy.) AND, I fully expect more to come as the Fed released on the June 27th: 37% of all American businesses are in major trouble.
  • Lending is down – tougher to qualify, banks are demanding greater down payments and want to ensure that if they repo a camper (or any vehicle), they can recover their money when they sell it.
  • Pawn shop searches are up – way up – another “barometer” of “consumer health” as consumers look to raise quick cash by selling/pawning their belongings
And more classic cars!

What does this all add up to in the RV world?

A BUYERS MARKET – and as I hinted earlier, its about to get MUCH better (for buyers) if the trends I detail above hold.

There ARE some buyers in the RV market. Boomers who have saved their entire lives and are not (as) worried about the job market and are (somewhat) less concerned about inflation ARE still in the market. Further, families that can no longer afford rent or a mortgage are buying (generally cheaper) campers to live in. Also, business travelers (thanks to modern technology) can travel and earn a living. This has kept certain markets stronger than others.

If you’re looking to obtain a camper (of any type) or sell yours – and you want a “guide by your side, who also has your back” – check out my Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service. And be sure to check out my reviews at the base of this page.

Used Campers: As I noted above, there is some demand for campers people (families) can live in. Larger travel trailers, some fifth wheels, and some class A’s. But… only less expensive units.

Classic Cars – I can remember when this one was new!

Fuel efficient Class B campers are also strong sellers, along with certain Class A campers for boomers who wish to travel and enjoy the RV lifestyle.

New Campers: I’m still more a fan of used over new campers for many reasons, but occasionally there are good reasons to look for a new camper. The key is to find a dealer who understands the value of selling camper. What I mean by this is: Some dealers will make a sale on minimal profit (or even a loss) to move the unit and generate some cash flow as opposed to those dealers who try to optimize profit on virtually every sale. This is one of the services I provide for my clients as I find those dealers and ensure there are no “hidden charges.”

Bearing in mind the number of 2022 units remaining on dealers lots and the fact that even new toy haulers (typically a strong segment of the RV industry) are selling at strong discounts. Be careful though! Many RV’s are poorly constructed, so do not buy on the allure of a big discount alone!

Here are some of the observations I’ve made from working with my own Concierge RV clients:

  • Sellers are TRYING to hold their price but it works only in certain circumstances. As I noted earlier, certain iconic brands are holding value better than most.
  • Many private sellers are upside down. That is they owe FAR more than their camper is worth. They’re stuck. If they can’t afford the payments, these are the people who will eventually walk away from their camper (at the cost of their credit rating) thus adding to the inventory of repo’s.
  • Buyers  (and sellers) need to be objective and dispassionate. Again, that’s part of the value I provide in my Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service.
    • with buyers – I serve as a consultant and advisor and provide an unemotional view on campers they’re considering (and I’m negotiating upon)
    • with sellers – compose & structure the ads, separate the scammers from serious buyers, sift out those looking to “steal it”, but at the same time, provide guidance on initial asking prices and further negotiations

A few tips:

  • If you buy new – (and I believe my service will save you far more than its cost) – find a dealer “that gets it”  – ie – sees the value of cash flow
    • Be aware that if you buy from a dealer who is not located near where you live, the dealer nearby you will likely NOT want to service your new camper. In that event, consider hiring mobile RV techs to work on your camper and secure permission from the manufacturer of your camper to have them pay for the warranty repairs you need. Quality manufacturers will do this for you.
  • We’re now on the “downside” of the Spring/Summer selling season (except in the Deep South.) Dealers know that most of what they will sell in 2023 has already been sold. These dealers understand that selling a camper with minimal profit is better than not selling it at all!
  • BE PATIENT – try to not “fall in love” with a specific unit and know that you can likely get it for a better price! As I noted earlier, be dispassionate!
  • With used campers, in most cases, aim to purchase it below book value (know book value & how to interpret it) – contact me for help

Ok, all for now. As always, the RV sales market is a dynamic and changing market. Each day brings me new and interesting challenges.

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8 thoughts on “RV Industry Update – mid-2023”

  1. What is going on? I have sold 5 travel trailers on Craig’s List. But, this is different. Current great trailer listed for 3 months; with 2 tire kickers. My market and surrounding markets have 0-3 Owner listings. Previously there would be 20+. Sellers have given up. Buckle up boys.

    • Sam,

      Yep. Its a brave new world. I’m still selling some of my latest inventory, but I have to be aggressive in my pricing (low pricing) to find interested buyers. With most manufacturers, you can’t start anywhere near book value (jd power avg. retail.) And of course, ANY condition issues hold it back further.


  2. Any updated thoughts on this? Are we bottoming out or still have more drop ahead? If we aren’t at the bottom, when do you think it will be, 3 months, 6 months 12 months, 2 years?

    • Brian,

      Bottoming out? Nope, we will see a FAR greater collapse of the rv market as buyers dry up. Rates will continue to rise; economy will continue to falter. I see this for at least the next 12 months. After then, it depends upon whether we have honest leadership return to our government. No change in “leadership” = continued decline in the economy.



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