RV sales hit a major bump in the road during the recession, but metro area dealers are seeing a rebound in RV sales this year as customers set out to explore the open road.
"Sales are up, it's bee very good. We've had about a 25% increase over 2011," said Tim Niemeyer, owner of Niemeyer Trailer Sales in Maple Grove.
In spite of high gas prices, metro area RV dealers are seeing double-digit growth this year, according to the Twin Cities Metro RV Dealers Association. Nationally, there are currently 9.2 million RVs on the road, up 10% from 2005, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
The steady rise in sales comes after the RV industry stalled out four years ago when the economy went south and unleaded gasoline hit the highest recorded average price of $4.11 nationally in July 2008.
"Things stopped, and somebody didn't just turn the faucet down, they turned the faucet off," said Niemeyer.
Four years later, Niemeyer and other RV dealers like Mike Pearo of Hilltop Trailers in Fridley are slowly seeing customers come back, just as the state's tourism industry marks its best summer since the recession as well.
"Everybody in Minnesota lives within 50 miles of a state park, so it's not like it's going to cost you an arm and a leg just to get out of the house and go camping for a weekend," said Niemeyer. "Not everybody has to have a 40-foot trailer or a big motor home, they can do it on a small scale.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
October 15, 2102