EAST GREENWICH R.I. (WPRI) — The head of a local RV dealer says the industry is dealing with a shortage of inventory due to higher demand than ever before, among other factors.
Prior to the pandemic, Arlington RV Supercenter in East Greenwich typically had 100 to 150 units on its lot this time of the year, according to President Jim Tarro.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, there were 10 available for purchase.
“This year has just been crazy,” Tarro said.
While COVID-19 put a hold on international travel plans, many Americans instead decided to hit the road.
“I think people want a safe way to vacation,” Tarro said. “You’re not on a plane, you’re not on a train, you’re not on a bus. You’re kind of controlling your own vacation the safest way you can.”
According to the RV Industry Association, people bought more than 148,000 units in the first three months of 2021. Tarro said they sold 144 units during that time frame, adding that the demand has been hard to keep up with.
“We probably have 200 units on order right now, and of those 200 units, I’d say 60 percent are probably sold before they hit this lot,” Tarro explained.
Tarro said right now, they’re only getting about five new RVs a week because of a massive shortage, and there’s a long wait for orders.
“Some of our brands right now are telling us if we ordered today, that we’re not seeing it until 2022,” Tarro said.
He said there are several factors contributing to a backlog: manufacturers had to shut down for a period of time due to the pandemic, the cost of building materials are on the rise, and there’s a lack of available appliances.
“You can’t get refrigerators, you can’t get parts, you can’t get AC’s, it’s just crazy,” Tarro said.
Some manufacturers are also having a hard time hiring workers, according to Tarro, which is also contributing to the backlog.
“One of our manufacturers had to take their schedule and go from five days a week of production down to two days a week of production,” he explained.
If you’re thinking about buying an RV, Tarro’s advice is to be patient. If you decide to shop used, he suggested to bring a friend who knows about RVs.