Millennials help drive increase in RV sales

WASHINGTON — Last month was the best December ever recorded in the RV industry in terms of vehicles shipped to dealers, according to the Reston, Virginia-based RV Industry Association. For the first time in four decades, RV shipments topped a half-million in 2017, up 17.2 percent from 2016.

The group said 2017 was the ninth straight year of increasing recreational vehicle sales.

Sales are being driven by a renewed interest in traveling the country by Baby Boomers, including retirees, but the RV bug also has caught on with younger generations, according to the association.

“Families with kids at home are buying RVs and we’ve seen a big influx of millennial buyers over the last two or three years,” Kevin Broom at the RV Industry Association told WTOP.

Recreational vehicles are also not your grandparents’ campers anymore either.

“The RVs that are being built now are better than they have ever been. They’re really loaded with features and comforts of home,” Broom said.

“Slide out walls and ramps in the back for your power toys, Wi-Fi hot spots, built-in wireless networks, self-tuning satellite dishes, and most campgrounds are now offering Wi-Fi.”

The average household income of an RV buyer is higher than the national average, but the association claims it’s not a lot higher. It said price points run the gamut, from $6,500 trailers to $150,000-plus motor homes. The average price of a towable RV is in the mid-$20,000 range, according to the association.

Towables — or trailers including small shells to apartment-sized fifth-wheelers — are by far the largest-selling segment in the RV market, but motor home shipments grew faster in December, with shipments up 12.2 percent in December from a year earlier.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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