Spring and summer have produced a bumper crop for sales of recreational vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Craig Little, owner of Arbutus RV & Marine Sales, says sales have increased 25 to 40 per cent compared to last year.
“We set a record in February, and March was right up there as well,” says Little, who co-owns five locations on Vancouver Island with his wife, Rose. “There was a drop in April, but it picked up again in May and we’re having our best June in 32 years. There’s a significant increase in first-time buyers who haven’t experienced the lifestyle before.”
Cross-border and international travel restrictions resulting from COVID have more people opting for holidays on the Island, he adds.
“It’s created a perfect storm. There’s more of an appetite to stay close to home and the Island has proven to be a safe place to travel. We have the climate, the scenery, the beaches, lakes and amenities.”
The fact RVs are self-contained and conducive to social distancing is part of the appeal, he notes.
“Another factor is that interest rates are so low, which makes it even more affordable. There’s a range of makes and models to fit everyone’s budget. When you consider that gas prices are lower, it’s created a perfect storm. Despite the record sales we’ve been able to gear up our inventory and offer a great selection. I’m also hearing that there’s a lot of great full-service private campsites available on the Island.
“It’s a great option if you can’t reserve a spot at one of our great provincial sites,” Little says.
Toma Lekhno, sales manager of Galaxy RV in Langford, wasn’t expecting the boom in sales to happen after COVID first hit in February.
“It’s a real pleasant surprise,” he says. “It started to pick up in April and has been increasing month by month into May and June. We’ve had to hire new staff, technicians and service people to accommodate the crazy volume.”
Although keeping up with the demand created challenges in terms of inventory, efforts to connect with new sources have worked out well, he adds. “We have a lot of stock on order and new trailers are coming in every day to keep up with the demand.”
The timing of the opening of Galaxy’s new building, set for within the next couple of weeks, couldn’t be better, Lekhno says.
“We’ll have a huge service department and a lot more space to accommodate our needs and our clients’ needs.”
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