Demand for trailers has reached unpredented levels, largely credited to the international travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-10 pandemic. (Contributed)

Spike in RV sales causing headache for Okanagan dealerships, buyers

Manufacturing of trailers and motor homes lagging behind demand due to COVID-19

Travel restrictions abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created an unprecedented rise in RV sales demand which are proving a challenge to meet for dealerships across the country.

Central Okanagan RV dealers confirm they are caught between a spike in people wanting to buy trailers or motor homes and curtailed supply chain issues which has prevented a post-COVID ramping up of production for U.S. RV manufacturers.

“What we have right now is a frenzy for used trailers … while we are putting in new orders in the queue with no certainty over their ETA (estimated time of arrival),” said Rod Haywood, general manager of the Kelowna RVs dealership in West Kelowna.

Haywood said the backlog right now is six to eight months for new trailer models.

“That has never been the case in our industry since I been involved in it for the past 40 years,” said Haywood.

Jason Friesen, vice-president of Voyager RV Centre in Lake Country, echoed Haywood’s sentiments, saying with the pandemic travel restrictions, people are looking for other ways to spend their recreation time and money.

“Our family went on several camping trips with friends last summer and the thing that struck us was how normal we all felt,” he said, compared to the stress sometimes of international travel. “We just hung out, sat around the campfires, and had a great time.”

READ MORE: ‘The best small city in North America’; Mission Group speaks to Kelowna’s potential

The story behind the supply chain challenges felt today began with the outbreak of COVID-19 last winter, causing many dealerships and manufacturing plants to close down or reduce their workforce as the economy bogged down.

“A lot of dealers made decisions to stop orders and cutback their business, not sure what the future held at that time for the economy or buyer interest,” Haywood said.

Once some signs of certainty began to return to the economy by the summer of 2020, the RV industry felt a dramatic and immediate impact, as people were looking for new ways to find a vacation escape from the stress of their daily lives.

“Once the flood gates opened, it started to put a lot of stress on the industry in the U.S. as many plants had been downsized or shut down, and the order queue began to get really backlogged,” Haywood said.

“The impact of that is beginning to show itself this year.”

Adding to the public health complications for assembly line manufacturing, Friesen said the supply chain for certain components – such as fridges, air conditioners, awnings, hot water tanks, etc. – are often made in China, and not being delivered to the same extent as in the past.

The reasons for that are complicated – coronavirus slowdowns, the current toxic state of U.S.-China trade relations and manufacturing plants adjusting to new health standards for spacing out workers on assembly lines.

“Canada long ago gave up making trailer components and the manufacturing end of and we are paying the price for it now,” added Haywood.

The same supply chain shortfalls are also impacting the cycling, boating and ATV product manufacturing levels right now.

MJ Wiggins, executive director of the Recreation Vehicles Dealership Association (RVDA) of B.C., said the scenario facing Central Okanagan RV dealers is the same provincewide.

“Actually it is Canada-wide,” said Wiggins. “There is a shortage of inventory coupled with a huge demand for people to buy units. Besides component parts for new units, there is also a shortage of replacement part availability so there is that side of it too.”

As an advocacy group for its members, Wiggins said the RVDA will participate in virtual meetings during advocacy week in Ottawa the third week of April, but the challenges are beyond the Canadian industry’s control at the moment.

“We have no hold up at the border because we were able to initially get RVs classified as essential because for many people their RV is their home,” she said.

“There are still units in dealership inventories that are available…but if you want a special order colour scheme or floor plan, you are probably going to have to wait a while to get it.

“These are interesting times, unique for our industry to be sure.”

READ MORE: ‘Daylighting’ lost rivers helps combat climate change, say Okanagan experts

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusOutdoors and Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A suspected water leak has closed Government Street between Nelson Avenue and Penticton Avenue.
Watermain leak closes portion of Government Street

City crews are trying to find the suspected water leak this morning

road closed
Mudslide closes Penticton road

Eastside Road is closed in both directions, take Highway 97 instead

Photo: pixabay.com
Morning Start: What does space smell like?

Your morning start for Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Pasta Factory on Martin Street was helped by the city to create patio space. (Facebook)
Penticton’s patio push is on, with Pasta Factory joining the party

City of Penticton is getting creative to help local restaurants

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

Shuswap businesses dependent on  tourism are bracing for further details of travel restrictions expected to be announced by Friday, April 23. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
B.C. travel restrictions create uncertainty among North Okanagan-Shuswap businesses

Sicamous mayor to ramp up campaign against licence plate hate

The site of a proposed water bottling facility referred to in a groundwater licence application is in the vicinity of this intersection. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Concerns raised over water licence application in Salmon Arm for bottling water

Neighbours want to know more, city councillor concerned about commercial use of public aquifers

Sheldon Pierre Louis’s winning mural design, “kʷu mr̓imstn, we are medicine.” (Facebook: Okanagan Nation Alliance)
Syilx artist selected as winner of Kelowna Gospel Mission’s mural project

Sheldon Pierre Louis was also awarded $10,000 for his winning submission, “kʷu mr̓imstn, we are medicine.”

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read