NCC figures reveal 20% drop in caravan production

The National Caravan Council is the official organisation of UK caravan makers
The National Caravan Council is the official organisation of UK caravan makers

Friday, 03, Aug 2012 12:24

by Chris Jefferies

British caravan manufacturers have been scaling back their production volumes over the past twelve months, and the outlook is for this trend to continue, with VAT concerns and wet weather weighing on the minds of many.

This is according to the latest figures from the National Caravan Council and analysis from industry experts Glass's Guide.

The official numbers show that from May 2011 to May 2012 only 20,061 caravans were built in the UK, making for a 20.2% drop when compared with the previous 12 months.

What's more, the annual totals for factory sales were down 17.2%, while retails sales fell by 9.4% year-on-year.

There was some bright news in the report, however, as the number of caravans being exported to the continent increased by 28.3%.

That's not to say that there has suddenly been a surge in interest for British-built caravans overseas, as the total number exported was a modest 462, making up just 2.3% of the market.

Caravan demand seems to have dropped most substantially on larger models, with a recent Glass's Guide survey revealing that 75% of dealers had reported a drop-off in interest for twin-axle caravans.

The up-side for buyers is that discounts are on the rise, with 50% of dealers reporting an increase in special offers and reductions.

What's behind this?

In response to these figures, Glass's Guide has suggested that a number of factors may be affecting both production and willingness to buy.

The recent poor weather and the threat of a VAT rise may have lead manufacturers to scale back production in anticipation of challenging times ahead.

In addition to this, the significant product developments that have happened since 2010 have seen prices of new caravans increase across the board.

The Glass's Guide report suggests that manufacturer's should counter these trends by increasing their quality control, particularly with regard to water ingress.

"Our subscribers report that the period a retailer is allowed to resolve an issue before the owner escalates the complaint towards legal action is becoming ever shorter," the analyst said.

"Coupled with the growing power of blog sites and the potential damage posed to brand image, it is becoming increasingly important that manufacturers strive towards a zero fault regime."

Whether this will all come true is open to discussion, but there's no doubting that these are certainly challenging times for the caravan industry in the UK.

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