b"QUESTION & ANSWER nBY BEN QUIGGLEWCMs Park Update Explores the Health of the RV Industry and What to Expect in 2024RV shipments continue to show some resiliency in 2024 as early numbers fromWCMs Park update is sponsored bythe RV Industry Association show that manufacturers are shipping more units this year when compared to 2023. RVIAs January 2024 survey of manufacturers found that total RV shipments ended the month with 22,674 units, an increase of 11.1% compared to the 20,405 units shipped in January 2023.That bodes well for an industry that was hit hard in 2023, but still, many are wondering if RV manufacturersand dealers to some degreecan continue to sustain growth in the current economic situation.To help readers sort through what is happening in the RV industry, WCMs Park Update, a weekly show hosted by Woodalls Campground Magazine (WCM) and sponsored by Spot2Nite, invited Rick Kessler, the owner of G&G Media Group, and publisher of both RVBusiness and WCM, to the show in late February to give his take on what he is hearing from both dealers and manufacturers.Based in Elkhart, Ind., G&G Media Group has been publishing both magazines after purchasing them from Camping World Holdings in 2011. Both RVBusiness and WCM are well-respected trade publications that focus on the RV and outdoor hospi-Rick Kessler tality industry. G&G Media Group also produces the annual Top 50 RV Dealer Awards, the RV Industry Power Breakfastan annual gathering of RV industry leadersRV of the Year Awards and more.Kessler, for his part, offers a unique perspective on the RV industry and gives insights into what people on the street are say-ing about the health of the industry. Below is an edited transcript of that show. You can watch the full show at https://www.youtube.com/@woodallscm or listen to it as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. the COVID bump is going to be gone, that the people are going to exit the lifestyle. Quite frankly, we would be burying our heads in the Scan to Watchsand if we werent concerned about those this Episode people leaving the lifestyle. Toby ORourke, the CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), had an excellent report on people doing exactly that. We're going to lose them if we dont take care of them, that was her message. How do we take care of them? Well, WCM: Talk a little bit about the trends inits pretty simple. Give them a good quality the industry right now. I know post-COVID itproduct, give them a good quality experience was exploding and now it seems like its hadand theyre going to come back. a little bit of a rough year and it's starting toWCM: How is the RV inventory looking come back, is that right? right now? What do the lots look like? We are Rick Kessler: Starting to come back is prob- hearing that there is a lot of inventory sitting ably the best way to put it. It depends on whoout there and that dealers are a little bit con-you talk to. Theres, you know, Weve hit rockcerned about the used lots getting in their bottom, but how long will we be at rock bot- way.tom? Thats been one way of saying it. An- Kessler: It depends on who you talk to. other way is, We havent hit rock bottom yetSavvier dealers took a hit on their profit mar-because its an election year. So, thats thegin to clear out their aged inventory, which is wild card. If you listen to the data people, theprimarily those 2022 and even 2023 model-elections have nothing to do with what theyear RVs that they had. They bought those at final numbers end up being. But, I mean,the height of the pandemic rush to have were all looking at these political ads comingenough inventory on their lots at that time. down. How can you not be swayed by eitherSome of them over-purchased units and they the sky is falling or its never been better? were sitting on their lots. They cleared them WCM: What are some of the reasons thatout. RVIA officials say growth is expected thisThe ones that didnt take a hit on their year? margin are probably still sitting on some of Kessler: The signs that they are pointing tothat aged inventory, and there's going to be a include No. 1, the long-term health of the in- reckoning because they're paying higher in-dustry is still very, very good. People have em- terest rates on that inventory. braced the outdoor recreation lifestyle. RVsOther dealerships did take that loss, they are a good way to have a base camp, if yougot rid of those model years, so they werent will, to enjoy those pursuits. The trajectory ofsitting, or they arent sitting on a lot of inven-wholesale shipments and retail sales is still ontory. Generally speaking, and this is really the rise.quite a general statement, most people are If you look at the 40-, 50-year history ofjust fine with their inventory. Theyre going to them compiling that data, its been a steadyridethroughthewinterasbesttheycan incline. The COVID years were an abnormalthrough the slow sales season, at least the bump in production and sales. Its come backnorthern half of North America. down to what theyre saying would be theRight now, everybody is paying attention normal trajectory, minus those COVID years. to these late winter, early spring RV shows. We WCM: Are officials worried about thesejust had several big ones. Again, it depends on people who may have come in during COVIDwho you talk to. I talked to several dealers who exiting the lifestyle, selling their units and nothad a great show. They sold a lot of units; they coming back? Or do they feel like they've cap- matched last year's sales and they're happy tured a majority of them and theyre going toabout that. But I also talked to a few people stick around? who didnt want to go on the record and who Kessler: I think everybody is concerned thatPark Updatecontinued on page 3424 April 2024 Woodalls Campground Magazine"