Two of the biggest manufacturers of motor homes saw their shares rise to record highs last week, and the Wall Street Journal sees two big reasons: retiring baby boomers and a younger set of "glampers" who have embraced the lifestyle. Winnebago and Thor both saw strong sales of their recreational vehicles, and the industry is forecasting continued growth over the next two years. The Journal, however, throws a few notes of caution: First, any kind of economic downturn or energy trouble could, as it has in the past, jolt the industry. And second, the younger set of buyers is generally embracing cheaper, towable offerings, as opposed to sleek and expensive RVs that allow buyers to live in them for extended periods, even permanently. Still, industry execs sound pretty happy.
"It's the change of lifestyle, it's a younger demographic, it's an industry that's really reaching this younger buyer," Thor CEO Bob Martin tells CNBC. "We're probably still ahead of the millennials, but Gen X, Gen Y (are responding), and we're starting to talk to the millennials." Martin says while some RV buyers are ditching their homes for a more mobile lifestyle, the key to most sales still revolves around camping, and stats show that more Americans are becoming campers. "Those people are potentially our next buyers," he says of younger campers. "They hit about 30 and they get tired of sleeping on the ground and ... they want a bed, they want air conditioning, they want something comfortable."