RVing takes off as pandemic sparks renewed interest in camping

Amid the pandemic, motor homes and trailers are quickly rolling off the lot. In fact, at one dealership in Tecumseh, some RVs are sold even before they arrive on site.

Dealership in Tecumseh says sales are unprecedented this year

Edward Raymond, co-owner of Leisure Trailer Sales, says there's growing interest in RVing this year. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

As the pandemic wears on, motor homes and trailers are rolling off the lot quicker than they did before. In fact, at one dealership in Tecumseh, it's common for RVs to be spoken for even before they arrive on site.

"People are buying trailers sight unseen because they like the floor plan, the model, they're putting deposits on them. As soon as the RV comes, 'I'll take it, it's sold,'" said Edward Raymond, one of the owners of Leisure Trailer Sales.

"So we have probably about a dozen units pre-sold that have yet to be built, and as soon as they come in, they'll buy them. They'll take them."

RVing has greatly grown in popularity, according to Raymond.

"Since COVID, people aren't jumping on boats, planes and trains as much right now, and RVing is a good solution for social distancing, vacationing and trying something different they never thought of before," he said.

For him, the interest has translated into unprecedented annual sales — up 45 per cent this year. 

He's not the only one seeing a boost. According to the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association, wholesale shipment figures have broken records for the last four quarters.

Barb Garber, who was staying at Windsor Campground in Maidstone, upgraded her trailer this year. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

The piqued interest in RVing comes as national and provincial parks are seeing a surge in visitors. Ontario's provincial parks saw a record year, and that's expected to continue this year, a spokesperson previously told CBC News.

At Windsor Campground, a private campsite in Maidstone, owner Ron Laliberty said he's considering extending the season and staying open for an extra month this year, until Nov. 15, depending on demand and the weather.

There's been a "steady, steady, steady stream of people coming in," he said.

One camper at the site on Wednesday was among those who made a trailer purchase this year.

"We had a pop-up camper and that's way too much work," explained Barb Garber. " And we were also thinking, we weren't sure if you could go camping without having an on-board washroom, so we got this camper. This is our very first time having this kind of a camper." 

As RVs see a surge in demand, Raymond said there's a backlog on production, increased prices, and challenges in obtaining parts for those already maintaining recreational vehicles.

People ordering RVs are now waiting at least 12 weeks — twice as long as before, he said. For those who can't wait, he said buying off the lot is your best bet.

With files from Amy Dodge