While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life, it has benefited the recreational vehicle industry.
According to a report, the sales of RVs have risen in the wake of the pandemic, and buyers are waiting in long lines to buy certain types like Class A motorhomes due to high demand and parts shortages.
Attila Braun, president and founder of Prairie Sky RV, said that people are now aware camping is a safe method to have fun and engage in recreation amid the pandemic.
Prairie Sky staged an RV display in Lethbridge Exhibition last weekend, and it was well-loved by the visitors who took a stroll through the travel trailers and fifth-wheels that occupied two pavilions.
Class A motorhomes were missing during the show because Braun has no models available and will not have some until later this year, despite having them in stock since last fall.
“People have more disposable income now than before because they haven’t been able to travel for two years. So they do have some cash put aside, and they’re using that cash to buy RVs,” Braun said.
“Camping in an RV is a very safe thing you can do. And why is that? Because you’re in your own space, you’ve got your kitchen, your bathroom, your own living space. You’re not around anybody. You’re inside in your confined space or outside in nature, far away from people. Even in campgrounds, you’re extremely physically distanced from all the other campers. And this is why camping is a good option for people during a pandemic,” Braun added.
Braun also added that sales are soaring at RV dealerships as it meant not sharing a bathroom in a restaurant or a hotel or a kitchen and getting your very own space.
The RV show occupied 75,000 square feet of exhibition space, with units of a variety of sizes and prices up to nearly CA$200,000, drawing the shoppers’ attention.
Prairie Sky, situated just off the highway in Coaldale, is home to a 12,000-square-foot indoor showroom where customers can shop year-round. The showroom can accommodate 15 units at any given time. Braun said that the showroom also has a full-time team of technicians who were on duty throughout the pandemic.
However, supply during the pandemic isn’t sufficient to meet demand due to the global shortage of parts and products made mainly in China and shipped out of China in containers to be assembled in the U.S., he said.
“RVs are selling quickly, the demand is high, the availability of parts and product is low because there are worldwide parts shortages, there are tens of thousands of orders for RVs in the whole range from travel trailers to fifth wheels to motorhomes and the factories, they have so many orders they can’t keep up,” Braun said.
Braun also emphasized that an increase in demand for products and the shortage of parts caused disruptions within the supply chain.
“There are continual price increases with RVs that we’re hit with almost every month, and that’s because of parts shortages, it’s because of shipping container costs from China to the U.S. These shipping containers are four and five times the cost of what they used to be.”
The higher shipping cost means that manufacturing and parts are more expensive, which is later passed onto the consumer, Braun said.
COVID outbreaks in factories where workers aren’t allowed to be in socially isolated spaces have also affected supply, he noted.
“We’re paying a premium for freight to get the product from Indiana,” which Braun calls the trailer manufacturing capital of the world.
“The freight from there to Canada is significantly higher than it used to be,” he said.
Prairie Sky first opened its doors in 2010 after Braun, who had previously run Looker Office Equipment with his brother for over 18 years, took on a new venture with his brother-in-law Perry Layton and friend Clarence Arnoldussen.