RV ownership in the U.S. has never been higher! The number of RV-owning households grew to to 8.9 million in 2011, up from 7.9 million in 2005, meaning that 8.5% of U.S. households now own an RV. “The data indicate that the basic appeal of the RV lifestyle remains as strong as ever. Consumers want to enjoy the same cherished experiences of RVing while staying within new budget constraints”, said Dr. Richard Curtin, (RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan) who conducted the survey.
The RV industry is responding to consumers’ needs with products offering the sizes, weights, amenities, pricing and floorplans that people want.
39% of RV owners have children under 18 living at home, according to the survey. Many of them have found that the newer, lighter travel trailers offer a great opportunity to enjoy the RV lifestyle with their families. People often already have vehicles, such as SUVs and small pickup trucks, that can tow these trailers. Monthly payments on trailers can be as low as $160 and fuel economy has improved with towing the lightweight trailers. The average age of towable owners has gotten younger, partially due to these factors.
Slide-out rooms, which became available in the 1990s but really took off in the 2000s have impacted almost every style of RV. They started with motorhomes and 5th wheels, but now smaller trailers and even some pop-ups have slide-outs. They give RVs more space without impacting driveability.
RV owners aged 35 – 54 posted the largest gains in RV ownership rates, rising to 11.2% in 2011 from 9% in 2005. Ownership also edged higher among those 55 or older, rising to 9.3% from 8.6% in 2005. A record number of baby boomers are traveling by RV for many reasons. An excellent article is: “Why Is RV Travel So Popular With Baby Boomers?”
The revolution in consumer electronics has also drivin up RV sales. Flat screen TVs don’t take up much space and are highly functional for RVs. Satellite TV systems for RVs have made it easy to feel at home in an RV and catch favorite sporting events, movies and shows. Surround sound is available. RV galleys now come with the latest appliances such as glass stove tops and residential size refrigerators.
Today’s RVs are built better and are easier to use. Many things are at the push of a button, AC systems have improved, interior decorating has improved, floorplans are better and storage has improved. Experienced RV buyers are more willing to invest in a luxury RV because they’re sold on the RV lifestyle.
In the last 10 years, toy haulers (trailers) have become more popular, especially with people transporting bikes, ATVs and other sporting equipment. Motorcycle enthusiasts also travel with their bikes in toy haulers. They have grown in appeal because they are so versatile.
People are finding many uses besides camping for their RVs. RVs are popular for dog and cat shows, horse shows, flea markets, art festivals and traveling with pets. In fact, many people buy RVs specifically to travel with their pets, and most campgrounds allow pets.
Financing an RV has gotten more stable in the last couple of years. Customers who had difficulty with financing a couple of years ago should try again. RV dealers are the best source since they work with multiple lenders to find customers the best rates. Even those who can pay cash may want to finance to get the second home mortgage tax deduction.
People who haven’t looked at RVs for a while will be amazed at the innovations and how manufacturers have made RVs so much more livable and drivable!