Motorcaravan Market Update

Jordan Conte

26 Mar 2019, Editorial

Figures released by the National Caravan Council (NCC) show the volume of motorcaravans registered last year was up 4.5% compared to 2017, at 14,691. Despite this positive result, dealers reported that demand was not in line with optimistic stock ordering for the 2018 season, with lots of units remaining unsold. This will have hampered their ability and desire to order a similar volume for the 2019 season.

Three words best describe the current market– tough, slow & strange. Tough and slow represents the situation for most dealers, as they continue to try to sell unsold 2018 stock, as well as their current 2019 stock. Manufacturers are finding it tough and slow attracting further orders of 2019 stock from dealers, despite huge incentives. Then there is strange. Strange is Brexit. It really has been an odd 34 months since the referendum result and it feels now as if it is badly affecting the market. The new market has been on the slide since the start of the 2018 season.

Manufacturers over-produced in 2018 and dealers over-ordered following on from a few buoyant years. The demand was simply not there and it was a hard grind for dealers to sell out of new stock. Plenty of 2018 stock remained going into the 2019 season and a fair amount remains today, advertised at hugely discounted prices. This in turn hindered the 2019 season from the start. Manufacturers still produced to capacity but dealers ordered as much as 50% less stock, mainly due to forecourts being at capacity. Demand in the market remains low with Brexit anxiety thought to be the main cause.  

The October 2018 Motorhome and Caravan show and February 2019’s Caravan, Camping and Motorhome show at the NEC, Birmingham, did not inspire much confidence, with attendances appearing low to the naked eye, despite official attendance figures claiming otherwise. Dealers reported to Glass’s editors that sales were down on previous shows. The normally active Manchester and Glasgow trade shows also did not hit their usual heights. Of course, three of these shows took place with the UK’s withdrawal date from the EU looming over them.

Brexit is causing huge economic uncertainty, resulting in consumers resisting spending on big-ticket items. Feedback from dealers regarding the rest of the 2019 season is understandably negative. The majority are seeing it as a year of consolidation. If they can sell out of their 2019 stock and Brexit is resolved, it will be seen as a success and allow a platform to be built for 2020. Is it that simple though, and are there further hardships to endure in 2020? –

  • Dealers may sell out of their reduced numbers of 2019 stock over the summer, but the unordered stock still with the manufacturers will have to find its way into the market and that will be at even more discounted prices. How long until that domino-effect ends?
  • Brexit may be resolved in that we have a date for leaving but that is not to say the economic uncertainty will not continue. Reportedly, it will take two years to complete the process and actually leave the trade markets. At the time of writing parliament has voted to extend article 50 and are waiting on the EU’s permission.
  • Concern has be raised by Consumers regarding diesel. Many dealers have experienced indecisive customers due to diesel’s negative press.


Used market activity

The used market is not as turbulent as the new market, with increased demand seen in 2018. The increase in demand was down to the used market’s more competitive pricing compared to inflated cost new prices on new models. In addition, the market saw large numbers of customers new to the leisure industry and touring caravan owners opting to upgrade. In the latter half of the year, the increase in demand made acquiring stock even more problematic than usual. Available stock in good condition is a rarity anyway, and further demand meant that an already dry pool was exhausted.

 Franchise dealers are more or less relying on part-exchange deals to obtain stock. Whilst used dealers put great amounts of effort, time and cover big mileage to source theirs. Though the used market is undoubtedly more cost effective compared to the new market, advertised prices are strong due to demand. Four to six berth units continue to be the most popular, especially if the number of seatbelts match, as more families enter the market. It will certainly be testing times for the market if good weather arrives over the warmer months as we could see yet increased demand.

The 1867 plate has been included in this edition of the data and values have moved down 2% accordingly. For subscribers of the Glass’s caravan app, please ensure that you regularly update the current editions to receive the latest datasets. Since the July 2017 edition, we have added over 1000 previously unvalued models to our database to help you value the vehicles around you.

About the author

Jordan Conte

Jordan ConteLeisure Vehicles Editor

Jordan joined Glass’s in May 2012 as a Valuation Assistant, mainly dealing with customer valuation requests. Since then he took on the role of Assistant Car Editor before taking on the role of Leisure Vehicles Editor, in April 2016. Jordan looks after all valuations for Motorcaravans and Holiday Homes.