Looking for an RV? Kamloops, Okanagan RV dealers are running short on supply | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Looking for an RV? Kamloops, Okanagan RV dealers are running short on supply

May 19, 2021 - 7:30 AM

Just as the real estate market has changed and boomed because of COVID, so too is the RV market as new units are in short supply and demand is up substantially.

“We’ve always had a big RV market and RV demand and now there’s another 50 per cent growth based on new people,” Jason Friesen, vice-president of Voyager RV in Lake Country said. “Some people who used to fly to Vegas or the desert or Florida and they now can’t or they now don’t want to do that, they are now giving the RV a try.”

The problem of supply runs throughout the region.

“Instead of 100 new trailers on the lot we’ve got 10 or 11,” Len Bourgeault, general manager of South Thompson Motors and RV in Kamloops said. “If something gets traded in, before we can get it on the internet, it’s sold.”

Brian Marsden, owner of Leisureland RV Centre in Penticton, was too busy to talk for more than a couple of minutes.

“This is the busiest week of the year for us right now,” he said. “I have 67 trailers on order and I’m only getting four or five in each month.”

As with the housing market, where an increased demand has been coupled by a lack of supply, the RV industry has been hit with the same double whammy but for slightly different reasons.

“At the beginning of COVID, the manufacturers shut their plants down,” Doug Thibault, general manager of Mike Rosman RV Sales in Vernon, explained. “Once they started up again, they needed to play catch up on orders.

“Texas had a bad winter, which affected the supply of plastics. It’s a domino effect. There is a high demand because people are trying to find safe alternatives to travel. It’s a supply issue that creates the urgency more than anything.”

Delays are sometimes caused by the fridge, stove or furnace manufacturers.

Many of Thibault's customers wanted to be out in new units by this May long weekend but, with 100 orders pending, many will be waiting until August or September to get new units. Some specialty orders won’t arrive until 2022.

The shortage has driven prices up a bit, but only in the single digits, he said.

This increased demand comes despite the fact that the worst of the pandemic may be over and other travel options may soon open up.

“There’s a lot of people who are nervous about going to that resort or that hotel or jumping on a plane and going somewhere and that’s going to take awhile to shake loose,” Voyager’s Friesen said. “Plus, the lifestyle itself. Even when we went into mini-pandemics or different waves, camping carried on all through last spring, summer and fall. That’s one of the things you could do. A lot of people started to realize how great that is.

“They started talking about exploring our own backyard and the RV is the vehicle that allows you to do that. You’ve got our own dishes, your own bedding, your own space. You don’t have to worry about how well a hotel was cleaned or was it cleaned at all or who else was in that hotel the same time that you were. Same thing with restaurants. A lot of people aren’t comfortable eating at restaurants so you cook your own food and you eat outside.”

Anyone just thinking about buying an RV now basically has to take what’s available on the lots, new or used. Or wait a long time.

It has definitely changed the way RV buying is done, Friesen said.

It used to be that it would take 12 to 18 months for someone to think they might want to buy an RV before they finally made the move.

Now, that’s shortened to a matter of weeks and it’s no longer a want, but a need, Friesen said.

There’s also a trend towards buying smaller units.

“It’s more the way the industry has been going since last April or May,” Friesen said. “It’s something I can leave in my driveway. I don’t have to find a storage facility. I can grab it on a whim on a Saturday afternoon and go and explore the northern Okanagan, or wherever.

“People like to get in and around various cities and communities, not having to worry about where I’m going to park this thing. It’s a place to sleep. It would be nice to have a toilet, somewhere to prepare food quickly but I’m going to eat outside, I’m going to recreate outside. A bike rack would be great. Or something I can tow with my light half-ton or SUV. That’s how the industry is going. And there’s a big push towards vans, that compact motorhome as opposed to the big bus.”

It’s all about getting away, enjoying the trip as well as the destination, he said.

“It’s heartwarming that people are just looking forward to something, to getting out and camping and doing some family stuff and getting away from the daily count on TV,” Leisureland’s Bourgeault said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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