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First toilet paper, now surge in caravan sales

By Morgan Dyer

First it was toilet paper, now it’s caravans.

Shepparton’s Donway Caravans has sold out.

But the business is not the only one, as dealerships across the country are reporting a surge in sales and interest in caravans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia.

Shepparton's Donway Caravans director Peter Don said the spike in sales was an exciting time not only for his business but also local manufacturing and the tourism sector, with caravanners expected to hit the road and spend money in regional areas.

“We had nine in stock and we have sold them all,” Mr Don said.

“We have placed another order, and before they have even arrived we have already sold some on them.

“We have had lots of people inquiring about when our next load is arriving.

“Because people can’t go overseas at the moment, they just want to hit the road,” he said.

The Caravan Association said the surge was reflective of people's desire to escape, with keen travellers reconsidering what they might do with funds they might have saved for a big overseas trip.

Mr Don said families and grey nomads were among the people inquiring about purchasing a vehicle.

“When we get them back on the floor, I’m sure that there will be that many people coming in looking at them and then hopefully purchase one,” Mr Don said.

“We’ve had people from Tasmania, Warrnambool and Mount Gambier come down and look at our vans.

“It’s more urgent than it was before; they (buyers) would usually have a big think about it over two or three months but now they are making the decision over one weekend,” he said.

Mr Don has been selling his custom-designed caravans for just over 12 months and in light of the demand he had decided to fast track the expansion of his business.

“In the next few weeks we will be installing a caravan accessory shop and service centre,” Mr Don said.

“We have a mechanic starting next Wednesday so he can do all the servicing aspect and wheel alignments.

“It’s really interesting times and we are really gearing ourselves up for the spike and I think being innovative within the industry will help,” he said.

Mr Don said people interested in buying a vehicle would need to start thinking seriously about a purchase, with a potential backlog in manufacturing expected due to the demand across the country.

“If we get busy and other dealers get busy, then the manufacturers will build (for) the ones who place their order first,” Mr Don said.

“The earlier you get in, the earlier you’re going to be hitting the road,” he said.

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