The lots of most RV dealers, once filled with rows and rows of RVs for sale, are sparsely dotted with RVs – if they have any at all. So, what’s behind the nationwide disappearing act and when will this RV shortage end?
What’s Causing the RV Shortage
It doesn’t take too much digging into the empty-lot phenomenon to find that the RV industry is up against many of the same challenges others industries are facing. Shortages of parts and labor, coupled with increased sales, is the age-old economic equation of supply and demand. In today’s market, three main factors are at the core of why it’s not even close to a balanced equation.
When issues arise in getting materials ordered, getting them made, and getting those items shipped, the resulting supply chain disruptions have an enormous impact on manufacturing. In September, RV News reported that more than 40% of the country’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) capacity was offline after Hurricane Ida swept through Louisiana. PVC is found not only in pipes, but items such as window frames, doors, and flooring to name a few. It isn’t always obvious how the weather can impact, and result in, an RV shortage.
Considering that even one missing piece for an RV can keep it held back from being lot-ready means supply chain issues in any number of industries can create quite a backlog in the RV world. No one wants to buy a new RV with incomplete parts like missing toilets! Even missing minor electronics parts means that your RV is not complete. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that anything that uses microchips is being affected in the same way as the automotive industry.
Often, one missing part isn’t the last thing needed to complete the RV and get it out the door. You may think, ‘So, there are a few missing drawer handles, it doesn’t matter.’ But when common missing parts include RV seats, doors, and appliances, it’s easier to understand the manufacturing backlog. If you have no seats, doors, appliances, or toilets, you may as well be camping in a tent!
It is hardly breaking news that there is a labor shortage. The Great Resignation over the past several months has been affecting businesses nationwide. In all aspects of the RV industry, from manufacturing to shipping to repairs and beyond, the labor disruption is having a negative impact. With fewer hands on deck, the RV supply which is already waning, is slowed even further.
Both a blessing and a curse, the booming demand for RVs is the last major impact on the RV shortage. Going back to basic economics, when the supply can’t keep up with the demand, shortage results. What’s absolutely incredible is that even with the parts and labor shortages, the RV Industry Association reported that manufacturers have shipped more RVs through the first 10 months of 2021 than in any previous year! If the demand for RVs were the same as in previous years, the first two factors – parts and labor shortages – wouldn’t be affecting the supply because production is soaring.
However, from the beginning of the pandemic, anyone looking for a safe way to get out of the house, find a change of scenery, or take a vacation found RVs to be a popular option. Others took advantage of a remote work environment and ventured into the full-time RV life. Additionally, RVs provided a safe place to stay for those doctors, nurses, first responders and other health care workers, who wanted to be near their families without risking exposing them to possible Covid-19 infection.
An industry-record 430,000 RVs were sold in 2020, and over 510,000 units have already been shipped from manufacturers in 2021, with two months yet to go in the year. This major spike in sales, combined with all the disruptions on the labor and supply side have created a massive scarcity of RVs.
The boon to the RV industry means RV parks, campgrounds, as well as state and national parks are seeing a marked increase in visitors and reservations. If you are in the market for an RV, don’t be discouraged. While it’s unlikely dealers will be teeming with RVs ready to be driven off the lot anytime soon, some advanced planning, flexibility, and a lot of patience will likely result in positive experiences for both your RV purchasing as well as your trip planning.
The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 640-9871
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