Brexit delivers blow to UK motorhome sector

UK: The owner and founder of a specialist UK motorhome sales and rental company is warning of an imminent shortfall in new motorhomes this year. 

This will leave customers and leisure operators without motorhomes for this summer’s anticipated staycation boom. The shortfall is due to a lack of orders of motorhome chassis placed by manufacturers back in 2019 as a result of concern around Brexit tariffs.

The Motorhome Holiday Company managing director Matt Sims said: “Motorhome manufacturers were very cautious about ordering the European chassis at the end of 2019 as there was still huge uncertainty around Brexit tariffs which, for consumers, could have placed an additional £8,000 on the cost of a new motorhome. The market saw a huge surge in orders of new motorhomes in the summer and autumn of 2020, as a direct response to Covid-19 and the restrictions placed on travel.

“As a result, we’re looking at an approximate 40 per cent shortfall in manufacture which is going to have a significant impact on consumers this spring,” he added.

Many motorhome rental operators sold their older vehicles at the end of last season ordering new models for 2021. They are now faced with shrinking or even closing their businesses for this year due to a lack of available motorhomes to hire.

Commenting on the impact of the shortfall on the UK leisure sector, Sims said: “We’re looking at up to one third of the UK motorhome hire businesses reducing their capacity with some businesses closing their doors altogether this season as they simply won’t be able to acquire motorhomes for hire in time for Spring when we hope the season will start. In line with customer demand, we had invested in twelve new motorhomes for 2021 but we won’t see delivery of those until October at the earliest, which will mean we miss the summer season entirely and lose approximately £200,000.”

It is not only operators that will lose out. The motorhome hire sector predicted a rise in bookings of 100 per cent this season – a combination of new and repeat business – but with the lack of available motorhomes, many customers who have already booked are likely to be left disappointed.

Sims added: “It’s going to be a huge blow to all those consumers who have ordered motorhomes or campervans for delivery for this spring as it’s highly unlikely they will receive their order until the autumn at the earliest.”

With the UK Government anticipating a “Great British Summer” as the UK’s vaccine rollout picks up speed, UK holidaymakers are expected to restrict their plans to a domestic holiday leading to unprecedented demand across the camping and caravanning sector.

Peter Douglas, a Motorhome Holiday Company customer, said: “Fortunately we had already taken the safe decision to book another motorhome holiday given the likely restrictions on foreign travel this summer but for those people looking at a motorhome holiday as a safe bet this year, they could be very disappointed.”

Sims said: “Our industry is predicting a surge of bookings as soon as restrictions are lifted and we are gearing up for our busiest year yet.  What’s frustrating however is that we could have seen a growth of 33 per cent with our additional new motorhomes – but that is income we now won’t see until next year.”

Around the world, mobile accommodations such as motorhomes, caravans, campervans and RVs are expected to flourish as people in urban centres seek an escape from isolation, when lockdown restrictions ease, and a secure, stress-free vacation in more remote leisure destinations.