RV sales surge in the Borderland as the pandemic fuels interest in low-contact mode of travel


Half empty lot at Franklin Mountain RV Sales illustrates the high demand for RVs in the Borderland. Photo by Brianna Perez, Borderzine.com

Sales of RVs have skyrocketed more than 31% in the past year and aren’t expected to abate as vacationers seek safe ways to travel during the pandemic, according to industry figures.

Borderland recreational vehicle retailers are experiencing the same national trend as local residents fill their showrooms buying up motorhomes and RVs, leaving lots almost empty.

“As units are coming in, it’s like eight to 12 days that they last on the lot,” said Ale Camacho, general sales manager at Holiday World of Las Cruces. “Normally our stores usually sit with 188 to 200 units.” Inventory has gone as low as 44 RVs.

With the pandemic in full swing nationwide, many RV retailers are seeing a rise in first-time buyers this year. “A good number… I would say, probably 60%, maybe 70%,” Camacho said.

Most buyers are purchasing larger units, called bunkhouse models, that can sleep up to 10 people.

Shan Thomas, local owner of Franklin Mountain RV Sales, said: “In the beginning, well, before the pandemic, we were doing really well in sales. But in the beginning of the pandemic, we were worried, you know, sales are really gonna fall off. But of course, now they’ve really picked up.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been avoiding traditional ways of travel in attempt to reduce their chances of contracting the coronavirus. Air, bus, train and even car travel have taken a backseat for many.

As a result, RV sales have skyrocketed by 31.2% since September 2019, according to the RV Industry Association’s September 2020 survey of manufacturers. The organization represents some 400 manufacturers and suppliers who produce 98 percent of all RV’s made in the U.S. and about 60 percent of RV’s worldwide.

The most recent statistics show RVs shipped from September 2019 to September 2020. The different RV models consist of four types of tow-able RV’s such as travel trailers, and three models of motorhomes.

On the road during a pandemic

El Paso resident and first-time RV buyer Ricardo Valle, said his family remains close despite the pandemic, spending time on the road.

“It’s still important to make memories and take trips with my family but, staying as safe as possible while doing so,” Valle said.

First time RV buyer, Ricardo Valle, switches to RV travel for family time during the pandemic. Photo by: Brianna Perez, Borderzine.com

First time RV buyer, Ricardo Valle, switches to RV travel for family time during the pandemic. Photo by Brianna Perez, Borderzine.com

RV travel is the answer for many families looking to make the most of the pandemic and travel with caution. With running water, heat and bathrooms, RVs require the least amount of stops during long road trips in comparison to cars and buses, which involve close contact with others for an extended period of time.

“I think it’s a lot safer. We don’t have the contact with anybody else. It’s just us. And we know we’re not COVID positive so we can be together in the RV and go wherever we want to travel without worry,” Valle said.

Low gasoline prices also are making RVs attractive and an economical alternative to flying. Valle’s family is spending less money traveling than they would traveling by other means, he said.

“It’s more economical. Buying gas for the RV is so much cheaper than the flying, we get to wherever it is that we’re going since we hook up, we have electric, water, we have heat, we have everything that you that we have at home and you only end up paying about $35 a day,” Valle said.

Since purchasing the RV the Valle family has put it to good use, driving their motor home through different cities in New Mexico, including Cloudcroft and Ruidoso.

“In the RV, we’re planning to travel at least every three to four months,” Valle said.

RV growth projected through 2021

The RV Industry Association projects continued sales growth in 2021 of 19.5 percent over 2020.

Thomas of Franklin Mountain RV Sales said he is optimistic that RV sales will remain steady even after the pandemic is over.

“After the pandemic, I think it’ll level off a little bit, but I think we’ll go through this spike for several months to come. I don’t see it dropping off anytime soon,” he said.



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