The year 2021 was a record year for RV sales. And the start of 2022 followed in its footsteps. However, as the year wore on, we saw the RVing and RV life popularity drop off and sale decreased. Looking ahead to 2023, many people are uncertain about the future. So is 2023 a wise time to buy an RV? Here are several reasons why you might want to wait.
Still Feeling the Effects of COVID on the RV Industry
COVID-19 had dramatic effects on every industry, and RVs are no exception. Manufacturers and parts suppliers halted production temporarily or even shut down for an extended period, but dealerships stayed open.
With no international travel, people took to U.S. roadways to get out of the house and fuel their wanderlust. Of course, we think RVing is the perfect way to road trip, and many saw it as an opportunity to travel while maintaining their social distance. Hence, there was a significant surge in RV purchases in 2020 and 2021, and that spilled into early 2022.
With dealerships staying open during the pandemic but manufacturers closed, RVs started to sell out. Dealers couldn’t keep new RVs on the lot because there weren’t enough running manufacturers and used RVs were flying off the proverbial shelves.
This caused a strain in the RV supply chain, the ripples of which we’re still feeling today.
Manufacturers were producing and shipping RVs faster than ever. The rush not only increased prices but also put quality from certain manufacturers in question. With an emphasis on restocking dealership lots with RVs, some manufacturing defects slipped through the cracks.
The 2022 year rounded out another strong year for the RV industry, but some forecasts suggest a slump is in its 2023 future. Unfortunately, a slump may not necessarily mean cheaper, better RVs for buyers.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy an RV in 2023
There’s no time like the present to start RVing, but this year isn’t a great time to make an RV purchase. In addition to lower savings rates, elevated inflation, and higher interest rates, here are the five biggest reasons not to buy an RV in 2023.
Lower Demand Should = Lower Prices
In a classic example of supply and demand, the low RV supply during the pandemic drove up RV prices. With RVs, building supplies, and parts in high demand, prices increased to keep up. This economic principle also applied to used RVs.
However, with the decrease in sales and demand coming into 2023, we haven’t really seen the drastic deals on new RVs that one might hope for yet. Inflation and a continuation of the supply and labor shortage that lingered from 2022 have been keeping prices from falling back to pre-pandemic numbers. However, as 2023 continues we expect prices will continue to fall and we might get there. You just might have to wait a bit longer.
Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t want to spend a lot on an RV purchase, early 2023 might not be the best time to buy a new RV just yet. We might see more significant drops later in the year, but we’ll have to wait and see.
However, you may be able to snag a used RV that someone else is taking a huge hit on for a good price. Keep reading, though, to find out if even that is worth it.
➡ Are you a frugal traveler? Check out our RV buying advice here: How to Buy an Awesome RV Without Breaking the Bank
Long Wait Times for New RVs
There have always been wait times to buy a brand new or custom RV from a manufacturer, but the wait times in 2021 and 2022 were longer than ever. We don’t see much change going into 2023.
Manufacturers are STILL struggling to catch up from supply chain issues, so direct customer orders take much longer. As a result, some manufacturers are still working on their wait lists from last year. Depending on how sales go this year, we might see them catch up to normal lead times before the end of the year, but that’s still a ways out.
Used RVs Can Have (Costly) Problems
Used RV costs have come down quite a bit, especially if you find someone just trying to get out of RVing. The RV dream during the pandemic is wearing off on many, so they’re going back to their homes and offices and out of the camper. However, these sellers are realizing the prices aren’t the same. Even still, they will likely try to get as much of their inflated cost back as possible. Be prepared for more firm numbers and rigorous haggling if you choose to buy this year.
With more supply of used RVs, you definitely have more options. However, the shortcuts and defects resulting from the RV supply chain issues during the pandemic may leave you with unexpected problems. So if you were thinking you could save money by buying a used RV in 2023 instead, think again. All that money saved may be lost for bigger repairs.
RV Service Centers Can’t Keep Up
Whether you need to have warranty work done on your RV or a simple repair, RV service centers are struggling. So what does that mean for you? Unfortunately, that means exceptionally long wait times–sometimes several months or longer.
RV service centers were notorious for long wait times before the pandemic. And now, there are more RVs on the road, and service centers are understaffed. This means wait times on RV service will be much longer – and you can’t go RVing if you don’t have your RV!
➡ Can’t get an appointment at a service center? Try mobile RV repair! Learn more here: Mobile RV Repair Service vs. RV Service Centers: Which Is Better?
Sought-After Campgrounds Are Still Full
Finally, one of the most frustrating parts of RVing in 2021 and 2022: campgrounds were full and crowded. Reservations for 2023 are still looking grim. And while many people have left the lifestyle this year, we reckon the number of campers is still up from pre-pandemic numbers as people try to get the most out of their recent investments.
There simply aren’t enough campgrounds or campsites to support all the RVers on the road, and not everyone likes to boondock! Even if you do want to boondock, more and more locations are being closed because of overuse and misuse of the land.
It’s challenging to get a campground reservation when campgrounds are full. If you want to reserve a campsite, you need to plan ahead. Gone are the days of just “winging it”–now you need to prepare, plan, and book early.
The RV Lifestyle Is Plateauing, But 2023 Is Not a Good Time to Buy
There’s no doubt about it: RVing is likely going to experience a downturn this year. But the effects of the switch don’t necessarily mean great things for RV shoppers. Even if you’re a savvy shopper, 2023 is not a good time to buy!
Longer wait times and the softening economic backdrop will deter the most frugal shoppers. But, if you must buy an RV in 2023, do your research. Be prepared to walk away from a potential sale if you don’t feel like you’re getting a fair price or if it feels rushed or hurried.
But when you find the RV you want, you will have to check it thoroughly for manufacturing shortcuts and defects. Some sellers may not have been able to get the RV in to be fixed even if they tried. So it helps to have a good idea of what to look for before making a deal.
Be smart about any potential purchase, and remember that there are plenty of options out there for you. Best of luck in your search!
Did you buy an RV in 2021 or 2022? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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