Touring Caravan market overview
Once again, summer is behind us and whilst variable compared to last year, it provided a fair amount of hot weather, with the UK temperature rising in July, to a new record of 38.7C in Cambridgeshire. It has been another tough year for the industry, with continued political and economic conditions affecting consumer confidence.
The annual HERMCA Lawns outdoor show took place at Cottingham, near Hull for the final time after 44 years. Next year, the show is moving to Harrogate, forming a larger event to promote the industry. At the show, understandably, caution remains for 2020 in view of the political backdrop however, manufacturers are remaining optimistic.
With the aim or providing an early indicator of the performance of the 2020 season, the next NEC show takes place in Birmingham between the 15th and 20th October. However, this year, with the current Brexit deadline looming large, the show timing could have been better.
During the last quarter, dealer feedback suggested order intake was behind last year. A number of dealers stated there was little order take consistency in the quarter. Aside from the political backdrop, towing laws continue to hinder younger families from purchasing a caravan, encouraging them to look at a motorcaravan as an alternative. There is some concern that the touring market is being squeezed at both ends with pensioners also moving over to motorcaravans as they are easier to manage.
However, it was not all bad news with a number of dealers seeing an increase in first time buyers, including younger families. Sales of the Swift Basecamp have been healthy this year with customers progressing to these entry-level vans from tents. Interestingly, some families have purchased Basecamps with double awnings as an alternative to heavier vans to overcome the towing law.
Although unsold 2019 models are now clearing the market, there is still a large amount of carry over stock sold at heavily discounted prices. However, dealers have been more cautious when ordering 2020 models, so hopefully there will be less of an issue at the end of the 2020 model year.
Market Statistics July 2019 vs 2018
- Production of units intended for UK distribution was 17.5% down
- Moving annual total [MAT] was 14.2% down
- Factory invoiced sales saw a downturn of 26.6%
- Moving annual total [MAT] for factory sales was 14.7% down
- Demand for 2-berths is down on last year
- Demand for 4-berths and larger family units including twin axles are broadly in line
- Majority of dealers are offering more discount
- Customer finance penetration is weaker with few PCP deals and 10 year HP the preferred choice
- Transverse island bed layouts with centre washrooms remain the top choice
The news continues to be more positive for the used market with the majority of dealers holding the opinion that sales have been broadly in line with last year. Some dealers stated that vans with a retail price up to £12,000 are selling well, with anything over tending to be more difficult to sell. This highlights consumers choosing used as affordable alternatives to new vans. However, whilst used is less affected by the political backdrop, it is certainly not immune, with some dealers finding both new and used markets tough.
- Demand for all berths including twin axles was broadly in line with last year
- Stock availability has been more difficult
- Transverse island beds continue to be the strongest sellers
- French bed layouts are still selling well for some dealers
- A fair number of dealers hold the view that their stock levels are too low
Following a few strong years for new sales, 2018 and more especially 2019 have faltered in comparison. However, in view of developments within the political landscape, it has perhaps been inevitable. Moving ahead to 2020 much depends on the outcome of Brexit. If the UK does leave the European Union at the end of October, it could be a stronger year, albeit unlikely to be outstanding. However, the majority of dealers believe 2020 is likely to be another tough year and most likely similar to 2019. The used market could continue in a similar vein next year but caution is required for later models, in view of strongly discounted unsold 2019 models.
For this edition, taking into account the time of year and the market place, values have been reduced across the board, except where trade feedback or evidence from the market place has indicated further adjustments where necessary.