EDITOR’S NOTE: The following excerpt is from an article published by OutdoorMiles.com. The full article, with statistics and in-depth insight into recessions and the camping industry, can be read here.

If economic history teaches us anything, when the going gets tough, people head to the great outdoors. While a 2023 recession is not certain, economic data suggests it could be right around the corner. Many businesses are preparing for an economic downturn, but not all. The RV and camping industry only needs to look at past recessions to realize they are positioned to weather the storm.

The camping and outdoor recreation industries have historically proven to fall into a recession-proof category. Compared to traditional forms of entertainment or travel, camping and outdoor activities are lower-cost options and offer individuals a sense of normalcy during tough times.

More than 11 million Americans already own an RV. Campers who own an RV will typically use it during a recession, helping to keep campgrounds busy. Historically, overnight stays in campgrounds remained steady or saw an uptick in reservations during recessions. Camping reservations increased during the 1980s, 1990, and 2008 recessions while the rest of the economy deflated.

During the 2008 Great Recession, campground reservations remained strong and continued to do so throughout the recession. In 2009, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds reported that campground and RV park occupancies and revenues kept pace with 2008 numbers, despite the recession. This was atypical of other travel sectors.

In 2020 during the pandemic-driven recession, just like in 2008, the tourism industry suffered. Not only was the public concerned about finances, but they were also afraid to travel and, in many instances, couldn’t. However, once again, the camping industry flourished. In 2020-2021, as lockdown mandates began to loosen, camping reservations soared, driving campground occupancy to an all-time high. These past few years have been one of the biggest booms the RV and camping industry has ever seen.

However, not all camping industry sectors escape recessions. While camping is popular during recessions, excess discretionary spending is not. Historically, RV manufacturers see a steep decline in RV shipments during recessions. However, the RV industry can take comfort in an expected rebound. Historical trends show a big boom in RV shipments immediately after a recession.

While a recession isn’t guaranteed this coming year, businesses are beginning to prepare for a drop in business. However, campgrounds and the RV park industry should ready themselves for another busy season. The good news is that history has proven that camping is recession-proof, and national and local businesses catering to campers may come out on top.