Compared to this time last year, the motorcaravan market is unrecognisable. In January 2020, demand for new units was erratic. Both manufacturers and dealers were carrying an uncomfortable volume of stock, culminating in a quiet week at the February show at Birmingham’s NEC. After a year of personal and professional hardships, it is refreshing to be able to look ahead to 2021 with some positivity. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is already rolling out, giving us a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel on our journey back to normality.
Despite national lockdowns and numerous regional restrictions, the market has seen a huge increase in demand for both new and used motorcaravans. The intensity of demand over the summer even enabled many dealers to catch up on sales lost during Lockdown-1. Dealers report that throughout the autumn and leading up to the second English lockdown, strong sales continued. So much so, that some dealer feedback suggests they received more orders for 2021 stock than they would have achieved at the cancelled October NEC show. Incidentally, this show has been rescheduled for October 2021. However, as expected, the second lockdown took the edge off demand, slowing the market down. Even with the second lockdown, demand remains stronger than it usually would be in November and December.
Today, the biggest hindrance to dealer sales is the lack of new and used stock. Stock issues began emerging when it became clear that domestic holiday demand was growing, as restrictions on foreign holidays increased.
Since then, the market has been ‘overwhelmed’ by first-time buyers. Many of these customers included families, attracted to the used market as an introduction to motorcaravaning. Used stock availability had been low before this with the added demand exacerbating the issue. This has affected all types of units, regardless of age, layout type and price point, although, the £20-30,000 price bracket remains the most sought-after by customers.
The following factors contributed to dealer stock sourcing difficulties.
- An increase in first-time buyers or buyers with no part exchange
- The lack of part-exchange vehicles drained dealer stock
- Owners selling privately
- With increasing demand, many owners took advantage of the strong market and sold their motorcaravans privately
Over the past few years, many dealers have been unable to sell all of their current season models. Consequently, they reduced their 2020 season order commitments with manufacturers. With hindsight, many dealers have wished they maintained some of their high factory commitments as so many units were soon consumed by the huge wave of demand over the summer. This demand has left dealers short of new stock.
Given the increased demand, dealers have been eager to increase their order commitments for the 2021 season. However, disappointingly, most manufacturers have lower output capacities for this season, due to COVID-19 severely hampering production. Parts and material supply chains have also been heavily affected, with staff availability also contributing to reduced factory outputs.
Despite the delays, dealers have started to receive their first batch of 2021 season units, which has alleviated some pressure on stock issues, although the majority of stock will not arrive until early 2021. Manufacturers look set to be able to return to full capacity for the 2022 season, which will further boost the market when orders start to be taken during the summer.
As demand has completely outweighed supply, it has left many dealers with their lowest levels, underpinning strong used values. During the peak of summer when selling was at its most ferocious, dealers reported that prices had gone ‘crazy’ and at points, they could ‘name their price.’ Used values have stabilised since the market slowed following the second lockdown. The values remain high and are likely to remain at this level until further used stock becomes available.
For the most part, recent feedback from dealers and manufacturers indicates there is positivity going into 2021. This is due to the continued high level of enquires received from potential customers. By summer 2021, the vaccine might allow holidaymakers to travel abroad more freely, however, many people will choose to staycation again while there remains a level of unpredictability. The awareness of domestic holidays and all that the staycation has to offer will be firmly in the consciousness of many more people, giving the market a chance to repeat its success.
There are certain obstacles that the market has to contend with over the next few months, however, there are growing signs that 2021 will deliver positive results.