The gasoline prices that hovered near $4 a gallon earlier this year apparently didn’t drive people away from buying recreational vehicles, according to RV dealers in Jacksonville, Fla., and nationwide sales figures, the Florida Times-Union reported.
“We really didn’t see much of a change in sales when gas prices rose,” said Matt Bateh, general manager of Camping World RV Sales on Beach Boulevard. “That’s a common misconception. The recession impacted RV sales, but gasoline prices alone rarely affect them. If a person is going to spend $200,000 or more on a Class A motorhome, most of the time the price of gas doesn’t matter much to them.”
According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the market continued to strengthen through the first four months of 2012 compared with last year. With total year-to-date shipments totaling 98,400 units through April, RV shipments were up 9.7 percent compared to the same four months last year.
“While the recession created new economic realities for most Americans, RV manufacturers responded by designing products with the right mix of space, amenities and price points, further positioning RVs as the ideal way for families to share outdoor experiences together,” RVIA President Richard Coon said.
As a segment of RV sales, motorhome shipments were off 3 percent, dropping to 9,400 units compared to 9,700 units from January through April of last year. In Jacksonville, most RV dealers say the drop was minimal.
“We really didn’t see much of a change in motorhome sales, even when gas prices were at their highest point,” said General RV Sales Manager Steve Fogle. “Overall, we’ve seen double the sales each month since the year began. In fact, we tripled sales some of those months compared to last year. We expect that pattern to continue through the summer.”
General RV’s Orange Park location is currently ranked as the second highest seller of towable RVs in the state, trailing only Lazydays in Tampa.
Since arriving in Northeast Florida, General RV has expanded significantly on Wells Road. Fogle says they recently purchased seven additional acres and are currently retrofitting the former Mike Shad Nissan facility. When its latest expansion is complete, General RV will have a 22-acre dealership.
Just as throughout the country, where towables account for about 70 percent of RV sales, it was much the same at General RV.
“Towables lead the charge, and we’ve been doing extremely well in that category,” Fogle said. “We’ve got some great buys right now, and everybody likes to get a good deal.”
Fogle and Bateh are optimistic about an upsurge through the summer.