From camping to RV life, COVID-19 lockdowns have fueled a boom in outdoor living as Americans look to escape from the work-from-home grind and restrictions on their usual entertainment venues.
The trend began almost immediately after the first wave of lockdowns fell in place. Jeff Cavins, cofounder of the shared RV rental marketplace Outdoorsy, thought his company would have to give up the entire spring season of 2020 as the coronavirus ravaged the nation, only to see demand soar. Between April 2020 and October 2020, Outdoorsy saw booking revenue skyrocket 4,000 percent.
“Over the six years we are in operation, 44 percent of all bookings took place in the last six months of 2020,” Cavins told Observer.
The growth continues into 2021. Year to date, Outdoorsy has already seen a 145 percent growth. The demographic is changing, too. About 80 percent of new bookings were made by Millennials and Gen X, Cavins said. “The RV industry has historically been [a business for] Boomers and retirees. That has completed shifted now. It’s a young people’s game.”
Outdoorsy provides RV rental service. As the RV lifestyle takes hold, ownership is on the rise as well.
A May report by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) showed that nearly 50,000 RVs were shipped nationwide in that month, a 75.9 percent jump from a year ago. Truck campers, travel trailers and towable RVs are the most popular categories among new owners. The industry association predicts sales of more than 575,000 RVs in 2021, surpassing the all-time record set in 2017 by approximately 14 percent.
“More American consumers than ever before are rediscovering the great outdoors and the joy that comes from spending time with friends and family,” RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby said in the report. “With RVing becoming more popular than ever, the RV industry has been committed to sustaining industry growth and meeting demand that shows no sign of slowing down.”
“While COVID was an accelerator to outdoor living, it wasn’t really a one-time thing,” Cavins said. “I see it more as a secular trend that was already in motion. “Americans became less interested in urban travel. Especially Millennials. They are losing interest in mass-market hotels and tourist attractions.