Why the coronavirus has Americans turning to RVs

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 2:17 PM EDT
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The coronavirus pandemic has forced many American's to rethink their vacations. Many consumers are now turning to RVs so they can safely hit the open road.

At Niel's RV in Los Angeles, sales are skyrocketing at a rate rarely seen before. Sales manager Garrett Conley says in just 10 days, his team sold the number of RVs they'd typically sell in three months, most of them to first-time buyers with coronavirus concerns.

"We've had customers that realize, 'It's time for us to own one,'" Conley said. "'We don't know how long we might be doing the self-quarantining for or how long we might be vacationing in this way for, so I might as well own one and do it at my leisure.'"

The pandemic has many Americans looking for a new way to travel, and the allure of what's essentially a self-contained hotel room on wheels is leading new customers to RVs. Some are using the vehicles as a way to safely quarantine away from home. Others, like Kristen Wray, see an alternative to traditional vacation plans. Her family canceled their summer flights, opting instead for the open road.

"We didn't really wanna do the airlines, and we didn't really want to stay in hotels," she said.

It's not only sales seeing a spike but rentals, too. The online RV rental site RVShare says they've seen a 1,000% increase in bookings from April 1 to May 19. At El Monte RV, some models have sold out entirely.

"It's really going well for us at the moment," said Gordon Hewston at El Monte RV. "Obviously, that's what people want to do, they want to go camping."

Dealers expect the demand to stay high as long as the pandemic persists. With sales and rentals of RVs on the rise, campgrounds and RV parks that have been allowed to reopen are also seeing an increase in interest and expect to be mostly full during the summer months.

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