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Staycation sales so strong for Lower Mainland RV dealers inventory could run out

Last Updated Jun 26, 2020 at 9:17 pm PDT

(Courtesy facebook/oconnorrv)

Lower Mainland RV dealers are seeing a spike in sales as people look for socially distant staycation options

Inventories are running low because of increased demand and manufacturing shutdowns

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) — Sales for recreational vehicles are picking up now that British Columbians are choosing to staycation this summer.

The option seems to be appealing to people looking for a way to stay in their bubbles and travel the province during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some dealers, including O’Connor RV in Chilliwack, are suggesting they’re worried about running out of stock.

General Manager Rod Siemens says, on a few days so far in June, he’s sold up to nine vehicles.

“Which, typically for our store, we haven’t done that very often. It caught us off guard and I can actually say that we may run out of inventory if I don’t get some in time. We’re still plugging away and selling people their family memories, going on holidays. Everybody’s pretty excited.”

Siemens adds sales are much stronger than they were this time last year, but just a few weeks ago he was wondering if they would ever pick up.

“We were thinking the worst case scenario, ‘How are we going to move what we have in inventory?’ Now, we’re going, ‘How are we going to get more?’ It’s become quite busy. We thought it was going to come slowly, but it ended up coming full force.”

RELATED: Horgan encourages summer staycations to boost domestic tourism

Joan Jackson, the Executive Director of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of BC says it’s too early to suggest sales will surpass last year’s numbers, but there’s no doubt inventories are running low.

“During May, things really started to kick into high gear and the dealers are saying they’re running off their feet. Good sales. Good rentals. But if you have your mind set on something and you want a certain floor plan, they’re probably not going to have exactly what you want on the lot,” she explains.

Jackson tells NEWS 1130 that 95 per cent of RV’s are manufactured in the United States where factories have been closed because of the pandemic.

“There’s going to be a backlog of orders. If you’re thinking you want an RV within the next couple of weeks, I would think you need to go out to a dealer and find one right away,” she says, adding delivery of a brand new RV can take up to two months.

“If anybody wanted to trade in their RV right now, they’d probably find a dealer to take it because that is the only downside is when everything shut down, the manufacturing is shut down, as well.”

Jackson is also suggesting it’s going to be easier to book a spot at a campground in British Columbia this summer.

“Maybe there’s a favourite place you have always wanted to go and you couldn’t get in. You might have a second look this year. Get online and book where you want to go. There’s lots and lots of openings for camp spots –especially since we’re not going to have Europeans and the people from the U.S. coming up, for the most part, this year. So, I would think it’s going to actually be a little bit easier to get to those campgrounds that you’ve always wanted to visit and get a chance to get in there,” she says.

Siemens says he doesn’t rent RV’s, but some customers have told him they decided to buy after renting a camper and enjoying the experience.

“One [person] has already done that which is very interesting because usually it takes a little bit more time, but they obviously had that camper-fever in them. So people are actually making up for being stuck at home. So far, we’ve been able to keep up.”

Other buyers have told him they’re trying this out because the pandemic is keeping them from flying overseas.

“You know, the general consensus is nobody’s allowed to go on a cruise ship, nobody wants to fly, so we get a lot of newbies that are coming around and asking a lot of questions, so they’re trying it.”