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Alberta RV companies sees spike in sales amid travel restrictions

Click to play video 'Alberta RV dealers see boom in sales, rentals due to COVID-19' Alberta RV dealers see boom in sales, rentals due to COVID-19
WATCH: Many Alberta RV dealers are seeing a huge bump in sales and rentals due to travel restrictions. But as Tomasia DaSilva reports, there is a segment of the industry that is actually seeing a big hit.

With the Canada-U.S. border still closed, Albertans have been forced to cancel trips planned before the COVID-19 pandemic and some are turning it into an opportunity to explore their own backyard with an RV.

“There wasn’t very many people coming through the stores in late March and early April, and then April 30 they announced that the campgrounds were going to open and it just exploded,” Rob Minarchi, director of sales of Arrkann Trailers and RV, explained.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta’s provincial campgrounds to open at full capacity

Soon after, online traffic on Arrkann’s Trailer and RV’s website increased by 100 per cent.

“There’s a lot of people that had another trip booked,” Minarchi said. “I just had a family that had a Disneyland trip booked that they had to cancel, and they were like, ‘We wanted to do something fun with the kids. We’ve always thought of RVing but we’d never actually done it, so we’re doing it.”

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Mark Fergus, Assistant Service Manager with Western RV, which has locations across Alberta, said business was booming.

“Everything from the little trailers all the way to the big huge road warriors 5th wheels,” Fergus told Global News.

“We are running low on inventory. We are selling out. It’s one of our craziest years, busiest years.”

Click to play video 'Edmonton RV company sees spike in sales amid travel restrictions' Edmonton RV company sees spike in sales amid travel restrictions
Edmonton RV company sees spike in sales amid travel restrictions

Chris Denman, who recently purchased an RV, says his travel plans have changed.

“With everything going on, there were a lot of trips we had planned over the summer that we couldn’t go on anymore, so being that we live here in Alberta and there is a lot of places to go and camp, no better time to do it than now,” Denman said.

While buying a trailer isn’t a small purchase, one financial expert says despite financial challenges resulting from COVID-19, some Albertans have the cash.

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“A lot of people have been reporting to me that they’re saving money, they’re not travelling personally or for business,” personal finance educator Kelley Keehn said.

“We had some money kicking around that we saved up,” Denman said. “We wanted to use it not only for us but for our whole family.”

Read more: Alberta tourism industry report highlights urgent need for help

Minarchi says there seems to be another factor driving an increase in sales.

“There’s also a big ‘support local’ movement and I think that’s part of it, supporting local RV businesses,” Minarchi said. “But also supporting local campgrounds, the local towns that rely on tourism, it’s a huge part of it.”

As for Denman and his family, they look forward to doing just that, with a summer jam-packed with camping getaways.

RV rentals down

Cruise Canada told Global News while sales have been incredible – rentals are not. They said they normally rent out 25-30 motorhomes a day, but this season it’s about eight-10.

Klaus Gretzmacher of CanaDream said the reason for the drop is lack of international travel.

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“International travel; we have seen a slowdown due to COVID-19 of course and due to the closure of the borders,” Gretzmacher said.

“I would say every other large, motorhome company would have the same slowdown because we’re all dependent — especially on the Europeans — who are not allowed to come in.”

  • With files from Tomasia DaSilva