The RV Market’s Economic Impact

24 / 06 / 2019


As you can see in the chart, the RV industry has steadily grown to record highs over the last eight years, hitting 504.6 thousand units shipped in 2017. What does that equate to in dollars? And how has this impacted the U.S. economy? Let’s see:

  • In the U.S. alone, the RV industry creates $50 billion USD in economic impact annually. More than 23,000 businesses are currently involved in the industry, creating nearly 45,000 direct employment opportunities and $3 billion in direct wages. (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association [RVIA])

  • In 2017, the RV industry celebrated its eighth straight year of sales growth. During this 8-year span, the recreational vehicle industry has grown more than 200%. (RVIA)

  • However, 2019 is expected to end this streak with a slight decline. But 2020 is predicted to return to growth with new record high sales numbers. (RVIA)

  • The U.S. isn’t the only nation affected by the RV industry. In Canada, the industry is responsible for over $7 billion in retail sales each year. (Statista)

  • In comparison, the U.S. RV industry generates almost $18 billion in retail sales annually from over a half-million wholesale shipments of RVs. (Statista)

  • Over 200,000 indirect loans were generated at retail locations offering recreational vehicles for sale in 2017. These loans totaled $8.4 billion from households purchasing RVs. (RVIA)

  • Of those 200,000 loans, the average amount financed by a household purchasing an RV is over $45,000 USD. (RVIA)

  • There are affordable RVs available today for under $10,000, but the average price of a motorhome is much higher. Class C and Class B motorhomes retail anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000, while a Class A motorhome can retail for more than $500,000. (RVIA)

  • The value of RV industry exports totals about $1 billion each year. (Department of Commerce)

  • The RV industry contributes almost $6 billion in taxes to the U.S. economy every year. (RVIA)


RV Consumer Demographic Profile Data

This section of the report covers all the studies and statistics related to the average RV shopper and their consumer demographic profile data.

  • Americans are the largest market segment for the RV industry to-date. Roughly 40 million people in the United States go RV camping. (This includes backyard and car-based camping.) (Statista)

  • Of those 40 million, Millennials make up approximately 38% of campers, even though they make up just 31% of the general population, according to 2017 figures. (CNBC)

  • However, the average RV owner in the U.S. is 48 years old. (RVIA)

  • Although Millennials are discovering the RV industry, Generation X and Baby Boomers are still the biggest segments of the industry. Households in the 35-54 age demographic are the most likely to own an RV in the U.S. right now. (RVIA)

  • Other studies back this up. According to the University of Michigan, more RVs are owned by people in the 35-54 age demographic than any other age category. (University of Michigan)

  • More than 9 million families in the U.S. report ownership of an RV. Additionally, there are about 16,000 campgrounds and parking facilities throughout the country, both public and private, which support RV camping. (RVIA)

  • Roughly 25% of campers in the United States are under the age of 18. (Statista)

  • The typical household income for RV owning households is about $62,000. These families spend an average of 4 weeks each year using their RV in some way. (RVIA)

  • There has been a 16% increase in household ownership of recreational vehicles in the United States since 2001. Additionally, 60% more households own an RV now compared to 1980. (RVIA)

  • About 54% of RV owners bring their pets with them when they travel thanks to how their RV is designed. (University of Michigan)


RV Direct Wholesale & Manufacturing Stats

This section will discuss the impact of RV wholesale direct manufacturing and the economic impact of RV manufacturers:

  • More than 100 manufacturers are currently active, most of which are based in the U.S. An additional 300 manufacturers, distributors, or suppliers of RV parts support the industry as well. (RVIA)

  • Indiana is responsible for 80% of the nation’s manufactured RVs. Of those, 3 out of every 5 RVs comes from just one county: Elkhart County. (RVIA)

  • As Millennials become a bigger part of the RV industry, revenues for RV manufacturers have increased dramatically. In 2017 alone, Winnebago saw a 75% increase in revenues in a single quarter and Thor Industries saw a 57% revenue increase. (CNBC)

  • Park Model Recreational Vehicles, or PMRVs, are like tiny houses situated on a trailer. In 2017, over 4,000 PMRV units were sold for the first time, reflecting an annual growth rate of 10%. (RVIA)

  • Over 7,000 dealerships currently operate in the United States, creating nearly 50,000 direct employment opportunities. (IBIS World)

  • Recreational vehicle dealers manage roughly $23 billion in revenues each year. Since 2013, the average annual growth rate in the industry has been 6.6%. (IBIS World)

  • Just 5 countries make up the majority of industry exports for the U.S.-based RV industry. Of those, Canada is the primary RV export destination with more than 90% of industry exports going north each year. (Department of Commerce)

  • Canada generates C$7.56 billion each year in recreational vehicle retail sales. (Statista)


Why Do People Buy RVs?

Here are some statistics on why people decide to buy recreational vehicles:

  • The main reason people purchase RVs is because it allows families a way to go camping that is easier than traditional camping options. Roughly 89% of people who own an RV say this was a primary reason for their purchase. (RVIA)

  • Another reason RVs are popular in North America is the cost-savings they offer families. An RV vacation can be over 60% cheaper than a traditional vacation at a hotel, bed and breakfast, or similar type of accommodation. (CBRE Hotels)

  • About 1 in 5 Americans say they prefer to take a hiking/trekking vacation that involves RV camping. (Statista)


What Kind of RVs Are People Buying?

There are a dozen types of RVs, from Class A’s to Fifth Wheels to Teardrop Trailers and Camper Vans. So which types of RVs are people buying? Let’s take a look:

  • In the United States, 1 out of every 5 RVs (20%) is classified as a “conventional travel trailer.” About 14% of households own a Type A motorhome or a fifth-wheel. PMRVs come in third, representing 12% of RV ownership. (RVIA)

  • The retail price of a camper trailer or a folding trailer can be as low as $6,000 while still being able to accommodate a family of 4. However, families still need a compatible truck to tow it. (RVIA)

  • Over 94,000 wholesale shipments of fifth-wheel RVs occur each year, compared to just 62,000 wholesale shipments of motorhomes, which are traditionally viewed as the primary RV families own. Fifth-wheels are taking over as the primary RV in an American household! (Statista)



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