Caution Covid Has Disrupted The Supply Chains
As most of our followers may know, my wife and I both have online retail stores. During these crazy times, with Covid, we have had the unpleasant realization that finding and maintaining inventory has proven to be a serious challenge. Our vendors are under strain to bring in inventory. Their suppliers are dealing with Covid related illnesses and a greatly reduced workforce. This seems to be the same scenario throughout the supply chains. It makes little difference what the product may be, inventories just aren’t there.
I would hope that this dilemma would instill patience in both our customers and others that are waiting for parts or repairs on their equipment. I believe that most people do not understand the gravity of the situation that we are in. On any given day, I believe, there are people, who have been asked to remain isolated due to Covid that for one reason or another decided to make a purchase on-line. They are used to a rapid response to their purchase and rightly so! Little do they understand that while they were asked to remain home from their jobs, so were so many others. Consequently, the supply chain has been broken. As we are asked to wear our face masks, the new norm, we must understand that we must exercise patience while trying to purchase and seek repairs. While our leaders struggle to help bring this virus under control we need to exercise understanding in the gravity of the situation.
Following is a series of two articles written by Nanci Dixon that cites the problem related to the RV industry. These articles were written for “RV Travel.com”, a periodical dedicated to the RVing community. It makes a good informative read for those of us in this wonderful community.
And please understand that if the Outdoor Family Store does not have what you’re looking for we can make a recommendation for an alternative item and do the research to find what you need. That’s what we do! And be patient, we will get through this and before you know it, things will be back to normal.
RV dealers are running out of RVs. Service centers are jammed
By Nanci Dixon
This is RVing during COVID-19. As summer approached, it became clear to many, many Americans that travel by RV was a much safer way to go than airlines, hotels, cruises, or any form of public transportation.
At the beginning of the year, economists were forecasting that the 20% downturn in RV sales indicated an imminent recession. That was true in 2007 and 2009. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, however, and the economy crashed, RV sales soared. People who still had a job or discretionary dollars realized that RVs provided a safe haven for traveling, social distancing, and a home away from home for essential workers.
Some sales lots are empty (literally) of pop-up campers, trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes. One dealer we talked with usually has 100 to 150 units on his lot and is now down to 3. Many units have been selling as soon as they hit the lot. Some people are even putting money down on types of units they have never seen.
Another dealer, in northern California, reported he also normally had 150 RVs on his lot this time of year. Two weeks ago he said he was down to 10. A New England dealer reported that he would normally have 500 units to sell but now has 180. A live video by a YouTuber searching for an RV to review showed an almost empty sales lot at See Grins RV in Gilroy, California.
Camping World is running ads telling RVers “We need your RV,” and offering to pay top dollar. “Your RV will never be worth more,” it says.
Major RV manufacturers shut down for a short time, while others reduced the number of employees to help cut the spread of the virus. That brought down the number of RVs available even as dealers were ordering more units to keep up with the demand. Some RV parts manufacturers also shut down for a period of time and resumed with shortened hours and fewer employees, causing a domino effect in the RV service industry.
As any RVer knows, seldom does an RV come off the lot without needing some minor tweaks or major service work. And a slowdown in parts manufacturing has meant that some RVers are waiting weeks for a part to fix their RV, as well as waiting for a spot in a service bay. Inventory that was supposed to last through the end of the camping season is gone, and dealers and customers are left waiting for the supply to catch up.
In what is supposed to be the slow season at RVForce LLC, a premier RV service center in Winter Haven, Florida, Mark Gorrie states, “Our service bays are full and our road crews’ schedules are filled out. Our slow season is generally the end of March until the end of October and it’s still busier than during our busy season.” Josh Gonzalez, VP of Operations at RVForce, said, “I would reiterate what Mark said. We offer a mobile service and we also offer shop service. Normally we are in our slow season right now for the shop and for the mobile side. Our shop is busier now than it is during our busy season.”
Jim Cook, the General Manager of Carpenter’s Campers in Pensacola, Florida, noted in an interview with WEAR-TV that “They (RVers) were sitting home for a month and now that the gates are open they are getting their RVs serviced, getting their maintenance done.”
Another swamped service center mentioned that people who have been hunkered down with nothing to do have decided that it is a good time to have their motorhome serviced.
Not only has the RVer stood in line for toilet paper during this strange COVID-19 year, but they are finding themselves again in line to get a spot in a service center and in line waiting for parts.
RV service centers and stores are out of parts. Now what?
By Nanci Dixon
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about RV dealers running out of RVs and service centers being jammed. There were a lot of comments. I was surprised at how many people were waiting for RV parts. Because of a shortage of those parts, either their RV was sitting in the service bay waiting for a part or they were waiting to get their RV into a service bay if the needed part came in.
One of those comments was left by Art B., who wrote, “I have been four months waiting for small parts for our Jayco, owned it for three months, three days. This is crazy!”
Ann noted, “Real-world experience. Stopped at my RV dealer for a $3 part that I needed. The dealer stated that the COVID has crippled the supply of parts. Only three RVs are available for sale. Many units on the lots waiting for parts. Had to settle for an alternative part.”
I decided to talk with several more dealers, service centers, and store managers.
RV stores are running out of RV accessories
One RV store manager said that every morning when he comes in, it looks like they have been robbed! Newbies are literally buying up everything and emptying out the shelves. So many people are buying RVs this summer that there is a veritable run on RV stuff too, including RV toilet paper!
Our sewer hose sprung a leak (not pleasant) and I called several places before I could find one. Once I did, it was shorter than I wanted and not the brand I was looking for. One woman at an RV dealer’s store told me that she only had two hoses left and “when they are gone, they are gone.” She just can’t get any more. I had searched on Amazon before calling around and found the one I wanted. The first delivery option was in the middle of October. A leaky sewer hose is an immediate issue so I paid an exorbitant price and hoped it was long enough.
RV service centers can’t get parts
One service manager said they just can’t get toilets, refrigerators, water hoses, water regulators, or even water filters. He said that companies building RVs have first called on the parts going into the RVs. For service centers, the product then trickles in after the manufacturers are supplied or don’t come in at all. While imports are a problem, most of the items he was waiting for were made in the U.S. Manufacturing plants that had shut down for several weeks are doing catch-up. One part manufacturer’s employees tested positive for COVID, and the lines were shut down until everyone was cleared.
Mark Gorrie from RVForce in Pensacola, Florida, explains, “Rumor is that the parts that are delayed are coming from China as most of the problem, and the rest of the problem is the manufacturers are still trying to catch up from their shutdown.”
RV service bays are full and RV sales lots are empty
And the service bays? Full! One dealer said that their service bays are so busy because all the new RVs they sold need to prep before delivery. He pointed to a calendar that showed every single day in July checked off with RVs that were sold and waiting to get into prep. That may take precedence over repairs. The sales manager then said that they just can’t get any more inventory this year.
The general manager at a different dealer said that 90% of all the sales are now new customers – customers that have not even been RVing before. Their usual clientele is return customers or experienced RVers. Their interior showroom was almost empty. A salesperson said they were ordering units but delivery might be sometime in December. December in Minnesota…not good.
Diane has been disappointed with the number of RVs available, “We’ve been preparing to go full-time for a year-and-a-half. We’ve done our research; we knew what we were looking for. This time last year we would have had no problem finding what we wanted but inventory is so low in southern California there isn’t a rig of the make/model within 200 miles of where we live. We went to about seven different lots that are usually full of between 150 to 300 rigs and found that they each had, at most, 10 RVs on site. I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but southern California has been cleared out.”
The couple next to us this week in a brand-new truck camper said that their parents had gone to RV lots early in the morning, looked over the fence at what there was, and before they got back to tour them the units would be sold. Keith just ordered a new trailer, delivery date May 10th, but only if he ordered that day.
It is an RV buyingfrenzy! Makes me wonder where all those RVs will go when the pandemic ends and people decide to take planes and cruises, and book hotel rooms again.