More than 13,800 consumers showed up Thursday at the 2022 Hershey Show – the second largest opening retail day attendance on record – to check out the latest U.S. and Canadian recreational vehicles at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
“Things are going really well. We had a great day yesterday,” Heather Leach, executive director of the sponsoring Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA), told RVBusiness this morning (Sept. 16). “We had almost 14,000 people – 13,854 to be exact. It was a really good day.”
The record for Thursday attendance at Hershey, officially known as “America’s Largest RV Show,” was set just last year when the 2021 rendition drew 14,006 consumers. For a pre-COVID pandemic comparison, the 2019 show attracted 10,963 show-goers on its opening retail day.
At the same time, Leach added, feedback from both exhibitors and attendees has been decidedly positive for the industry at large during a fairly unpredictable era when higher wholesale and retail prices and supply chain issues have been well-publicized challenges.
“Everyone seems to be doing well,” Leach said. “I know some of the dealers said they are making good sales. I think they’re having to work a little harder this year than what they did last year. But then again, last year was a whole different animal. But everyone so far seems pleased.”
And the industry, from what she can gather from exhibitors, apparently continues to attract a host of first-time buyers.
“I think, obviously, last year, new-to-the-industry buyers were a huge part of the show and I think that’s still pretty strong this year. I think there are a lot of new buyers coming out,” said Leach. “There are some who maybe waited to see how the trend went last year when it was so popular and then came out this year.”
She also noticed a shift in the types of buyers the RV arena is seeing lately. “What I think is amazing is that the demographic keeps getting younger,” Leach said. “We are seeing younger and younger people and families coming out and that’s really great. And the last two years, I think, have really strengthened that demographic as far as their interest in RVing and camping.”
Attendees had plenty to peruse as there were 35 dealers handling OEM exhibits and 175 supplier booths with a total of 1,500 units on display at the show, which continues through Sunday.
On Monday and Tuesday, meanwhile, PRVCA offered two days of training running the gamut from RV equipment and electricity to customer service and warranty administration to help boost dealers’ expertise in servicing retail customers. Presenters amounted to a who’s who of RV industry suppliers including Dometic, Reese, Dexter Axle, Coleman Mach, MORryde, Steele Rubber Products, Xantrex, WFCO and Micro-Air.
Public seminars on Wednesday included sessions on RV fire safety, purchasing RV’s, electrical formats, living on the open road, tips and tricks for exploring America’s national parks and a layman’s guide to RVing.
“Now we’re open to the consumers,” Leach said. “And we still have education events hourly at the show for them, so it’s a great opportunity for people. We have a variety so if you’re new to RVing, there are seminars that pertain to you. And if you’re experienced, we have some that work for you as well.”