While exact numbers have not yet been tabulated, it looks as if more than 80,000 people attended the 2022 Florida RV SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds outside Tampa this past week.
The previous record attendance number was 74,286 in pre-COVID 2019, which at the time had eked out a win over the 2018 show’s record by 1,200.
“Unbelievable,” said Dave Kelly, executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) which organizes the event. Despite cooler temperatures over the weekend and intermittent misty conditions, more than 20,000 show-goers were in attendance on Saturday.
“Cold, for our people, that doesn’t bother them,” Kelly told WOODALLSCM.com on Monday (Jan. 24). “I saw people in T-shirts and shorts yesterday. It was just incredible. We still had more than 20,000 people Saturday even with the crappy weather.”
One takeaway that stood out the most for Kelly was when several people told him the show felt normal again following the two previous COVID-affected events.
“I kept thinking, ‘Who’s afraid of COVID?’ They were shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow and very, very few seemed to be concerned about masking or distancing or anything else,” he said.
While people are still cautious about getting sick, it’s not near the level of concern seen in 2020 and 2021, Kelly pointed out.
“You know, someone said this – and it was the best compliment I could have gotten – they said there’s a sense of normalcy back again, you know?” he said. “That’s what they came away with by being out here. They just felt like things were turning and getting back to some kind of what we used to know as normal.”
And, of course, business was good.
“Just amazing. Everybody I talked to was just thrilled. I think we sold out most of the 2022 product in five days,” Kelly chuckled. “Seriously, a lot of guys were saying everything they had was gone. Lazydays, RV One – they all were saying it was the best SuperShow they’ve ever had. It’s just incredible. It bodes well for a strong year for everybody, I think.”
General RV’s “parts store” was well-received, Kelly said. “This parts store would rival anything you’d find at any dealership. They knocked it out of the park. They were ecstatic.”
Dealers confirmed Kelly’s assessment.
“We had a phenomenal Tampa Supershow,” said Jon Ferrando, president and CEO of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based RV Retailer LLC. “The crowds were tremendous. Our team was on its game, and we exceeded our record from last year by over a hundred units.”
Ferrando’s view of the market in general, based on the Tampa Show?
“Yeah, the market was good,” he said. “The RV consumer was out in droves, and they’re buying. So, it’s a great early indicator for a strong 2022 for the RV business.”
Ken Jacobson, sales manager at Fort Myers, Fla.-based North Trail RV Center also reported strong business during the show.
“Wednesday and Friday were extremely busy. A lot of people came and bought on Wednesday,” he said, speculating that perhaps consumers were concerned about availability and decided to buy on opening day.
Thursday was an average day and the weather on Saturday and Sunday slowed traffic a bit, so it wasn’t quite as busy, but still far above average for North Trail on a weekend at the Tampa SuperShow. Jacobson noted that Saturday and Sunday were mainly first-time buyers and families.
North Trail, a leading Newmar dealer, had two displays, one for Newmar and one for Renegade.
“We had everything pretty much Newmar carries, including the Super Cs and also high-end luxury diesels and we also had Renegade,” he said. “The Renegade stuff, like the Super C stuff was absolutely crazy. We sold tons of units and had a lot of ordered units.”
Newmar sales were strong as well and an owners’ group that North Trail sponsors, the Newmar Country Club, had a record number of coaches at the event – more than 200, Jacobson said.