It would be an understatement to say 2020 has been tough in view of the Covid-19 global pandemic. With the UK in lockdown for three months, this has had a significant impact on the leisure industry. Key periods including Easter and the spring bank holidays were lost as a result. There is light at the end of the tunnel with lockdown gradually being eased, showrooms reopening and holiday parks expected to open on 4th July enabling travel for the peak summer holiday period.
Whilst dealers and manufacturers have been closed, many remained open for enquiries with sales staff working from home. General feedback was positive with reports of strong demand during full lockdown and significant numbers of enquiries. Dealers in Germany, France, Holland and Sweden opened a few weeks prior to those in the UK with healthy demand, which was a good precursor to how sales may perform in the UK as lockdown rules ease.
Since June 1, dealers in England have reopened for business with sales proving to be strong for both new and used tourers. A few dealers even recorded their strongest week ever. That said, it is early days and the next few weeks will give a more accurate idea of where the market stands. However, in view that many people will be nervous of holidaying abroad, manufacturers and dealers are optimistic that the idea of a ‘staycation’ will gather strength.
With UK hotels and B&B’s remaining closed and people likely to be anxious of staying in them, a touring caravan makes an ideal solution. This is supported by reports of increased newcomers entering the market, especially younger families and current tent owners progressing to a touring caravan. Some previous caravan owners are looking to buy again, while others are looking to upgrade to higher specifications with superior washrooms due to concern that site facilities could remain closed. Consequently, this has boosted demand across the board for both new and used units.
Touring Caravans – new market
With UK factories closed for much of the last three months, fewer 2020 models have been produced, leading to a shortage of certain models. Some manufacturers are not looking to restart production until September, so stock is likely to remain compromised. This is in contrast to the last few years where there has been a high amount of unsold models carried-over into the next season. However, this means dealers can potentially start 2021 in a stronger position, without compromising new sales by discounting previous year stock.
The Harrogate Caravan Show 2020 was set to replace the long running HERMCA Lawns Show in September, but this has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. There is currently no confirmation as to whether the October NEC show will take place, but there are doubts this will go ahead.
A broad range of vans are selling across the board, particularly those in lower price brackets. Purchasing trends continue to favour transverse island beds, whilst increasing numbers of twin axles are being purchased. As with new market, there is concern about stock availability as demand remains strong coupled with high numbers of new customers purchasing without part exchanges. Dealers report stock levels to be down on where they normally are at this time of year, so many will be looking to source stock as demand remains strong.
The last few months have been tough for the leisure industry and it will take time to make up for lost ground this season. There is cautious optimism. With UK staycations high on the agenda the market could experience strong seasons for a number of years. However, the economy is suffering as a consequence of Covid-19, with uncertain times ahead. Many people have been furloughed and redundancies are inevitable during the coming months. This is likely to subdue some of the potential, although following an extensive period of lockdown, many people are keen to take a much-needed holiday.
For this edition, taking into account demand and potential stock shortages, values have been held across the board, except where trade feedback or evidence from the marketplace has suggested further adjustment where necessary.