Figures released by the National Caravan Council (NCC) show that manufacturers produced 18,986 units between January and October 2018, an increase of 0.5% on the same period in 2017. The current moving annual total (MAT) also shows an increase, of 1.3%, with 22,717 units produced. Dispatches to holiday parks in the same period also grew, with 18,089 dispatched, an increase of 1.3%. However, the current MAT shows 20,766 equating to a 0.3% decrease.
For the most part, sales within the market moved at what park owners and dealers described as a ‘slow and steady pace’ being very similar to the previous year. Of course, the market had to endure a monster of a winter period, with the weather causing the loss of business from both existing customers and potential new ones.
Luckily, the summer brought the complete opposite as record temperatures soared and new business opportunities to salvage the selling season. Since the end of August, the market appears to have taken a turn for the worse. Sales are reportedly hard to come by, despite only being in the first quarter of the new 2019 season. The HERCMA shows at the Lawns and Beaulieu appeared to have lower attendance compared to previous years and sales to have suffered.
As with other areas of the leisure market, swathes of unsold 2018 stock remain. Enticing consumers to the new market has been tough. There is a feeling that the market peaked in 2016. For many existing owners, the financial outlay of renewing is becoming too great, with annual pitch fees rising with inflation and the cost of a new holiday home increasing too.
Parks are trying their best to entice business with offers and discounts with little current success. The market has become price sensitive. In recent years, the higher end £50-80k model ranges had a strong following, especially as finances were more commonly available from the traditional caravan customer. This year, the £50-80k price bracket has struggled. Consumers are turning to smaller and less luxurious models that still offer the desired specification.
A domino effect looks likely to affect the market as heavy discounts are on offer for the unsold 2018 stock, resulting in further falls in values on older models. Manufacturers are disheartened by falls in orders from parks for 2019 stock. Parks owners, not wanting to become stock heavy, have been cautious with their ordering not helping manufacturers with production planning as we head into the spring.
Demand in the used market appears healthy. Used retail asking prices are more competitive than new prices following the manufacturer price increases seen in recent years. This has attracted price conscious customers to a more affordable market.
A small surge in available quality used stock appeared for the first time in years. The standard of units improving, with desirable specification. Of course, older units without double-glazing and central heating, are available in their droves with values suffering as there is no longer a market for them. Not only is there no market but the cost of removing and destroying the unit overtakes their worth.
Brexit continues to cause distress within the market with customers and dealers alike willing the exit date to arrive as fast as possible. The majority of people the Glass’s editorial team have spoken to feel Brexit has really hindered this sector of the market. The decision to purchase or retain an asset with finances tied to it like a holiday home is difficult, especially when the country is embroiled in a scenario that appears to be causing economic uncertainty. Regardless of how Brexit plays out, the consensus throughout the industry is that 2019 could be the first year for some time that we see losses in profit and sales compared to previous years. A milder winter and smooth Brexit will be at the top of every New Year’s wish list.
Due to the decreasing of values in the July and October editions, Glass’s have held values for the January edition.