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Spike in RV sales: Are millennials fleeing parents’ basements?

(Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)

Millennials are adopting a new type of living by leaving the comfort of their parents’ homes for an RV.

This embrace of nature with a high-end twist has been dubbed “glamping.” Glamping is “camping in glamorous fashion,” according to the New York Post.

“This market is back on fire,” Gigi Stetler, of RV Sales of Broward, Florida, told the Post. “[Recreation vehicle sales] are always the first to go down in a recession and the first to pop up in a recovery.”

Stetler has worked with younger buyers, offering them pre-owned RVs for half of their original value, about $15,000. She also accommodates special requests, including high-tech additions such as Wi-Fi and audio/video systems. Millennials who need space for pets, children, and guests, or storage space for bicycles, kayaks, and other sports equipment, can customize an RV as they see fit. That adds another $5,000-$10,000 to the price, of course.

The millennial interest spike has the industry excited for a large growth in sales in 2016.

“The majority of Dixie RV’s business is coming from younger couples,” Dennis Dalheim, general manager of Dixie RV Superstore in Virginia, told the Daily Press. “The difference with the millennial generation is they do their research online before coming to the dealer, know what they want and are looking for a deal on the price.”

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association estimates that “wholesale RV shipments are projected to total 396,400 units by the end of 2016, an increase of six percent over the 374,200 units shipped in 2015.”

With millennials contributing significantly to the spike in sales in the last year, summertime has drawn in a younger audience who “want to try before they buy,” Dalheim said. He noted a 50 percent increase in rental business in 2016, “with a large chunk of that business coming from millennials using them to attend music festivals.”

Jamie Dodd, president of Dodd RV, noted that the attention from younger audiences has grown, even if it’s only a momentary change. “Most people that buy them get them to do fun things with their families or spouses,” Dodd said.

“Consumers are flocking to the RV market thanks to a combination of baby boomers hitting the road and younger families desiring to break from gadgets and reclaim the American outdoor way of life,” Frank Hugelmeyer, RVIA president, said. “RV travel and camping helps them strengthen family relationships, enjoy outdoor adventures, and be active.”

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