18/03/2009 - 22:00

Families a growth market for caravans

18/03/2009 - 22:00

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THE state's caravan industry is preparing for its biggest trade event of the year, with signs the changing demographics of the caravan and camper trailer market could prop up sales.

Families a growth market for caravans

THE state's caravan industry is preparing for its biggest trade event of the year, with signs the changing demographics of the caravan and camper trailer market could prop up sales.

Traditionally popular with the 'grey nomads', the market is undergoing something of a shift towards families who are looking for a more affordable and flexible holiday option closer to home.

Richard Raven, national sales and marketing manager of Australia's second largest caravan manufacturer, Fleetwood-owned Coromal Caravans, says while the current economic climate has affected its business, it hasn't been to the degree that was expected.

His business has adapted to the changing market by recently launching a new economy family range to tap into one of the biggest growth markets.

"We can see more and more families getting involved in caravanning," Mr Raven told Business Class.

"Families are more interested in travelling this country than ever before.

"Overseas travel is not necessarily the best option at the moment with the exchange rate, and the fuel price within reason these days."

The new product is part of a rationalisation of production at Coromal to better suit the changing environment.

"We've had to rationalise what we build; we looked at our production, rationalised models that weren't good sellers and became more conservative," Mr Raven says.

"Over the past five years we've had huge increase in sales ... now it's settled down to what it was like before the high increase."

Caravan Industry Association of WA chief executive Pat Strahan says the annual caravan and camping show, being held this week, is a major event for the industry.

It's also a good indicator of market demand, with some businesses generating about 40 per cent of their annual sales from the show alone.

More than 200 businesses are exhibiting this year, slightly more than last year.

The Department of Industry and Resources' new caravan registrations figures for the September 2008 quarter show a slump in registrations, with 961 new caravans registered in WA compared to 1,283 in the September quarter 2007.

Meanwhile, caravan park takings are up on the same time last year, consistent with anecdotal evidence that many caravan parks are tracking well despite the downturn.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, short-term caravan park visitors occupied 1.34 million nights in the September quarter 2008, compared to 1.10 million in the September 2007 quarter.

Takings for the September 2008 quarter totalled $31.6 million, up on the September 2007 quarter result of $29.4 million.

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