As 2020 draws to a close, what has COVID-19 meant for the industry? There was cautious optimism about 2020 this time last year. With BREXIT moving on and a General Election out of the way, it seemed the UK could finally look forward. However, nobody predicted what happened next. With the rapid global spread of COVID-19, the country went into national lockdown on March 23. Unable to reopen until the beginning of June, dealers feared they had lost a critical part of the season, including the Easter and spring bank holidays. Even more frustrating was the fantastic weather throughout April and May, with wall to wall sunshine, very little rain and almost no sales opportunities for dealers to close.
However, once dealers did reopen, they were inundated with enquiries and a high level of sales followed. Many of these customers were first time buyers including young families, as ‘staycations’ were in high demand due to travel restrictions. This was great news for the industry as a lack of young families buying caravans has been a concern in recent years. Whilst a percentage will choose to return to holidaying abroad once the pandemic is under control, many will have taken to caravanning and continue for years to come. Despite a thoroughly challenging year, the level of demand in the wake of COVID-19 has given the industry a much-needed boost
Unfortunately, COVID-19 continued to make its presence felt, and England went back into lockdown in November, with enhanced restrictions affecting the other UK nations too. Lockdown-2 was less disruptive as it did not coincide with the peak season.
The main bugbear for dealers has been stock shortages, with high levels of first-time buyers, who of course do not have a part exchange. Many dealers have found sourcing stock to be a challenge and are having to pay a premium to secure quality stock. In contrast to recent years, there has been little unsold 2020 stock in the dealer network, with no distress selling this year.
Touring Caravans – New Market
During the last quarter, dealer feedback has suggested enquiry levels and sales have been ahead of last year. As expected, the vast majority of dealers have less stock. Whilst transverse island beds remain a top choice, demand is buoyant across the board.
Market Statistics September 2020 vs 2019
● Production of units intended for UK distribution was 27.8% down.
● Moving annual total [M-A-T] for UK Distribution was 48% down.
● Factory invoiced sales saw a downturn of 36.5%.
● Moving annual total [M-A-T] was 43.4% down.
● Demand is ahead of last year across the board.
● Majority of dealers are offering fewer discounts.
● Customer finance penetration is overall similar to last year with increases in some areas
● Stock levels are down on last year.
Used caravan enquiry levels and sales continue to be buoyant and ahead of last year. Whilst fixed island beds remain the preferred choice, everything is selling currently, from older lower-priced models to late year models with high levels of specification.
Key Points versus 2019
● Demand is stronger across the board
● Stock levels are lower across
● Majority of dealers have inadequate levels of stock
What are the prospects for 2021?
During the last quarter, new and used markets have remained buoyant. The COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out, giving hope for 2021. However, it is going to take months before things return to normal. The state of the economy and the likelihood of a no-deal BREXIT is a concern. Additionally, overseas holidays will likely increase later in the year once the vaccine program takes hold. Despite this, there continues to be optimism for 2021 will be a strong year, and there is, of course, the potential for 2020s newcomers to upgrade their vans to a later model or even a new one. There is also likely to be an influx of vans to the market from newcomers who no longer wish to caravan and will return to holidaying abroad. There is little doubt that dealers will welcome this additional stock and it should help improve used stock availability in 2021. On balance, there are many positives to be taken.
For this edition, taking into account continuing stock shortages in the market and the new season approaching, values have been moderately increased across the board, except where trade feedback or evidence from the market has suggested further adjustments where necessary.