RV Industry Association President on what is driving the surge in RV purchases

Craig Kirby, RV Industry Association President, joined Yahoo Finance to discuss the surge in RV purchases in June and what will drive the second wave of RV purchases.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: But all summer, we've been talking about what people are doing in this environment some limited options for vacation. And RV has been a very hot trade. And joining us now to talk more about the state of that industry is Craig Kirby. He's the president of the RV Industry Association. So, Craig, when you guys look at where the industry is at right now, just kind of put this year in context for us, I guess, relative to how you guys saw 2020 playing out, you know, six, nine months ago.

CRAIG KIRBY: Well, needless to say, it's playing out quite different than what we had anticipated with the industry basically shutting down for two months. So to be where we are today is quite incredible. I mean, we've had a total v-shaped recovery. This past June, our shipping numbers are the highest we've seen since October of '18. And it's really not surprising now, because we ended up conducting an Ipsos survey and found that over 46 million people plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months. And they're showing up on dealer lots and with rental firms.


MYLES UDLAND: And you know, Craig, we've talked to some of those rental companies who can't, you know, keep vehicles in stock. And you guys actually note in the data, type B motor homes are up 90%. As someone who doesn't RV, is that, like, the whole thing? Is this a trailer? What's a type B motorhome?

CRAIG KIRBY: The type B is-- it's like a van camper-- it's a van-based motorhome. So they're not too large. They're-- I think you're seeing a lot from just the van camper lifestyle that they've become very popular. So I think that's why you're seeing that demand. The other demand that we're seeing are in the trial trailers-- the entry level trial trailers. They run about $20,000 to $30,000, and they've been extremely popular right now.

INES FERRE: Craig, and who is buying these? What's the demographic of the buyers?

CRAIG KIRBY: Well, younger buyers. I would say that 50% to 80% of the sales that are taking place right now are by first-time buyers. And the majority of those buyers are in the 25 to 40-year-old age group. And it's really not that surprising to us, because that was the fastest-growing segment prior to the pandemic.

MYLES UDLAND: And you know, Craig-- go ahead, Ines.

INES FERRE: Well, I mean, just a follow-up on that-- you know, if jobs don't come back that easily, are you concerned that people just won't be able to afford these?

CRAIG KIRBY: Well, I think-- I think because we offer tremendous value, that we should be able to ride it out. You can get in an RV for as little as $6,000-- fully camping trailers. Motorized products start at $50,000. And there are a lot of products in between. And like I mentioned, the first time buyers are buying more of the entry level products right now.

MYLES UDLAND: And you know, Craig, I remember-- I think it was maybe two years ago, there was a big "Journal" story about millennials getting all bulled up on camping vehicles, things like this. Are these trends-- are they accelerating this year? I mean, is this demand that is being pulled forward because people are afraid to fly? Or is the RV kind of vacation lifestyle something that you think younger consumers are going to want in all future scenarios?

CRAIG KIRBY: I think it's both. I think that a lot of people were waiting to pull the trigger, and this has kind of pushed them to the point to actually doing it. You mentioned people don't want to fly. They don't want to stay in a hotel. They don't want to eat in a restaurant. And in an RV, you can be socially distant and enjoying the great outdoors. The bottom line is right now, people feel safest in their homes. And an RV is your home on the road. And so especially the millennials, they want to travel. And this offers a great opportunity for them to enjoy the summer.

MYLES UDLAND: And then, Craig, I actually recently drove out to Ohio-- not in an RV, but to go see my in-laws-- and there were quite a few out on 80 heading both east and west. And my question is around safety of driving these-- what people need to know when they get behind the wheel of some of these vehicles. Because I felt like some people thought they were driving, you know, a BMW, not a couple-ton truck that was-- you know, didn't exactly have the same kind of balance profile. What do people need to know when they are renting an RV, buying an RV, and how can they operate that safely.

CRAIG KIRBY: They need to work with their dealer partners who can educate them on how to operate the vehicle. And they shouldn't really leave the deal lot until they are comfortable driving it or pulling it. And that's what the dealer is there to help the consumer to address that situation.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, Craig Kirby-- he is with the RV Industry Association. Craig, great to get your thoughts. Thanks for joining the program.

CRAIG KIRBY: All right, thanks for having me.