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31 Headlines From COVID Era Reveal a New Golden Age for RVs

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

RVs are having a moment. The pandemic added fuel to an already-expanding industry, purchases and rentals are up, demographics are changing, and there are no signs of slowing down.

Graphic showing RV sales data.


  1. Wholesale RV Shipments, 2000-2017 (graphic)

  2. RV Rentals and Sales Surge During Pandemic

  3. Popularity, Shifting Demographics, and Capacity Issues

  4. Post-COVID Projections

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Survey of Manufacturers, 55,014 units were sold in September 2021, an increase of 32% compared to September 2020, setting a new all-time high for the number of RVs shipped in any previous month and quarter.

A record number of rigs are on the road and owners can now manage units with the ease of an AirBnB.

And the trend does not appear to be slowing. In December 2021, The Insider reported that Thor Indstries - which includes Jayco and Airstream - now has an $18.07 billion order backlog. Their first quarter sales were up 56% over the same time in 2021, and just this week Thor reported a 42% increase for Q2 sales. Despite its efforts to improve supply chain, the backlog is so substantial that the manufacturer doesn't expect to fulfull current orders until some time into 2023.

As shown in the chart below, RV wholesale shipments saw a steady increase during the 2010s. Then the pandemic shifted the industry into hyper-speed. Below is a media roundup of RV trends before, during, and after COVID.

Wholesale RV Shipments, 2000-2017 (graphic)

Chart showing wholesale RV shipments by year.
Source: RVIA;

RV Rentals and Sales Surge During Pandemic

RV Rentals Are Popular Social-Distancing Choice as Vacation Season Arrives.

Laura Sky Brown. Car and Driver. 5/18/20.

RV Rentals Are Zooming Along Right Now.

Maggie Fuller, Afar. 5/18/20.

RV Rentals Increase 650% as Coronavirus Changes How Americans Vacation.

Sean Szymkowski, CNET. 5/19/20.

Scared Americans Desperate to Travel are Buying up COVID Campers.

Jeff Green, Bloomberg. 5/26/20.

Worried About Social Distancing When Traveling? Join the Crowd and Rent an RV.

Elaine Glusac, New York Times. 6/11/20.

RV Sales are up Amid Pandemic Travel Limitations.

Andy Uhler, Marketplace. 11/25/20.

RV Sales Soar During Coronavirus Pandemic.

Sumner Park, Fox Business. 1/23/21.

Popularity, Shifting Demographics, and Capacity Issues

Millennials are Flocking to RVs Like Never Before During the Pandemic.

Brittany Chang, Business Insider. 12/22/20.

COVID Spurred RV Sales, But Can National Park Campgrounds Handle Them?

Lori Sonken, National Parks Traveler. 1/31/21.

VanLife Takes off During COVID-19 as Americans Convert Vans for a Life on the Road.

Nathan Bomey, USA Today. 2/17/21.

COVID-19 Creates 18 Million First-time RV Travelers in the USA.

RVEzy. 4/9/21.