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Are RV Dealerships Across the USA Really Going Bankrupt?

Rumors are flying around the community that RV dealerships are going bankrupt. Fortunately, we’ve learned over the years that you can’t trust everything you hear.

Many of these businesses enjoyed several years where campers practically sold themselves. However, the RV Industry Association’s data tells us that’s no longer true. But is it as bad as it sounds?

Today, we’ll see if your favorite RV dealerships could soon close their doors. 

Let’s get to it!

A scared man climbs over a series of U.S. dollars. Are RV dealerships going bankrupt?
Is it true that RV dealerships are going bankrupt?

Famous YouTuber Claims RV Dealerships Are Going Bankrupt

Scotty Kilmer, a YouTuber with over five million subscribers, recently ranted about the RV industry to his viewers. In his video, Kilmer paints a dreadful picture by saying, “It’s going down the toilet.” As you might expect, this differs from what most retailers want potential customers to believe.

He shared that he recently drove from Tennessee to Rhode Island. During his trip, he passed several large camper wholesalers. What did he see when going past? A sea of unsold recreational vehicles waiting for buyers to take them home.

Kilmer believes people are waking up to the fact that campers can be money pits. The famous YouTuber shares that RVs require a lot of gas and sometimes have poor construction. He goes on to state that they’re far too expensive. Sadly, we agree with some of his points.

RV Dealers Complain About Build Quality Amid Sales Declines

Complaints about RVs and crummy craftsmanship aren’t anything new. However, these grievances typically come from the consumers who purchased them rather than those trying to sell them. It’s so bad that sales teams are angry with manufacturers about the low-quality campers they’re producing.

How can professional salespeople earn customer trust when selling products they can’t stand behind? It’s an impossible task and causes RV dealerships to fear they’ll go bankrupt. 

Retailers have had buyers return after their first trip with a laundry list of issues. Many problems were because factory workers took shortcuts or rushed to complete the job. The mistakes resulted from months of assembling and shipping out vehicles as quickly as possible.

Had the manufacturer properly inspected the rig before shipping it, they’d likely have a satisfied customer. Unfortunately, they didn’t, resulting in frustrations for dealers and owners.

When you pay a premium price, you expect a premium product. However, manufacturers ignored quality during the pandemic boom. With today’s inventory moving slowly, the forecast is grim for retailers.

How Much Have RV Dealership Sales Declined in 2023?

The camper industry has been nothing short of chaotic recently. And RV dealers aren’t exempt from the saying, “What goes up must come down.” Despite years of breaking records month after month, some RV dealerships are now concerned about going bankrupt.

The RV Industry Association released data indicating that shipments dropped nearly 50% from last year. While this number doesn’t directly reflect sales, it gives a portion of the big picture. If dealers need inventory, manufacturers will get it to them quickly. A decline in shipping reveals that retailers don’t need to replenish their stock as quickly.

One reason for the slowing is that the market has peaked. Demand from 2020 through most of 2022 was because of travel restrictions. Families discovered campers can be a great way to vacation and make memories while staying away from others. That said, most people have returned to normal now that these hurdles are no longer in place.

Furthermore, the increased demand drove prices sky-high during the chaos. Combine soaring costs with climbing interest rates, and they’re even more expensive. Securing an RV loan was challenging before. Undoubtedly, this puts ownership out of reach for a segment of consumers.

It’s real: Alert: Famous RVers Warn, “Die Hard RVers Are Stepping Away”.

Scissors cutting a price tag in half. Will RV dealers be offering price cuts?
Consumers are hoping this will lead to lower RV prices

Will RV Dealership Bankruptcy Woes Lead to Price Cuts?

RV dealerships worrying about going bankrupt could make pricing changes. Years ago, customers could expect to negotiate as much as 30% off the sticker price. But buyers found sales teams unwilling to haggle when demand went through the roof. With the market cooling, dealers may begin entertaining negotiations again.

Additionally, reports show that lots still have 2023 models sitting unsold on them. Retailers with older inventory in stock may not have room for 2024 models when they become available. Shoppers might expect older models to come with a steep discount. It’s possible to find an RV dealer willing to offer a bargain to move aging inventory.

However, several factors often affect costs. Location, season, and the type of RV majorly impact the sticker price. 

Retailers are less likely to offer discounts in spring and early summer when the camping season begins. If you’re okay with waiting to take out your rig, winter can be a great time to get a deal.

Many experts in this market segment expect prices for new units to drop. The decline we’re seeing is a sign of bleeding in the market. Is it the death of the entire structure? Absolutely not. But it does shine a light on certain factors that need to change.

Dig deeper: When Is The Best Time To Buy an RV? (Hint: It May Be Soon).

Rental Popularity Soars as RV Dealership Sales Decline

Most RV owners use their rigs a handful of weekends each year. They may take them on an extended trip, but these vehicles spend most of their lives in storage. Some choose to capitalize on their investment and recoup costs by renting out their camper.

A camper rental can be an excellent option to consider. It provides the opportunity to experience the fun without stress, investment, and constant maintenance. Websites like Outdoorsy and RVshare are two of the most popular platforms.

These services are a win-win for both parties. The owner gets to make a little money, and the renter gets to create unforgettable memories. You can find listings all across the country. Some will even deliver and set up the unit at your campsite. For others, you’ll need a capable towing vehicle or be comfortable driving a large rig.

The Industry Remains Afloat… For Now

The market has changed significantly. Luckily, we haven’t seen any widespread closures or major RV dealerships going bankrupt. Experts predict that smaller family-owned operations could sell out to more prominent brands. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict the future. We suggest you buckle your seatbelt and hold on tight. It could get bumpy!

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