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EL CAJON, Calif. – An El Cajon-based RV dealer says business was up by more than a third this past year as families search out safe ways to travel and get away during the pandemic.

“RV dealerships are very low in stock,” says Bart Waymire of Rick’s RV Center. “Manufacturers are manufacturing them at record numbers right now. Parts in our division is really hard to get.”

The pandemic has caused sales of RVs to jump significantly, Waymire said. For some, it’s due to financial hardships brought on by the once-in-a-generation public health crisis; for others, it offers a way to vacation more safely, he said.

“There’s an uptick in people living in them which is actually bigger than what people thought even in the past,” he said. “There’s huge uptick in buying the new ones …what I understand, it’s very difficult to get an RV spot at a campground. All those are booked solid.”

Nearly 46,000 RVs were shipped by manufacturers in January, up nearly 40% compared to January 2020, according to a January 2021 manufacturer survey by the RV Industry Association. In a statement, Craig Kirby, the association’s president and CEO, said RV shipments “show no sign of slowing down.”

“RV manufacturers and suppliers are producing a record number of units to meet the continued demand from consumers looking to make RVing a part of their active outdoor lifestyle,” Kirby said.

It’s not just Rick’s RV Center feeling the boost. San Diego Autosports in Santee sold three times as many RVs in 2020 as it did the previous year, according to Darren Reyes.

“We had a banner year despite the pandemic and a lot of them are selling over asking price,” Reyes said.

But for those looking to hit the road in an RV, Waymire recommends renting before buying.

“RVs are a little bit of work,” he said. “People don’t realize that sometimes, so rent one first.”