Nigel DonnellySee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Nigel Donnelly
A strong Euro over the last couple of years has put the poor old Pound under real pressure. But there are signs that it could be changing.
Problems in Greece early in the year put a slight wobble under the Euro, but the bailout of the Irish economy and worries about Spain, Portugal and Italy are making exchange rates more favourable as financial markets watch things shake down.
This is good news for caravanners, but not just for obvious reasons. Holiday costs are the obvious benefit. A better exchange rates means a cheaper baguette or two and your site fees will drop. Add in cheaper road tolls, diesel and ferries, and continental breaks could quickly get cheaper.
How British is your caravan?
If the Euro carries on weakening however, the cost savings could go even further. Although more than 95% of caravans sold in the UK are built in the UK, the value of the Euro is vital to UK manufacturers. Name a component in your British caravan, and the chances are that it was imported.
Chassis - Germany
Locker doors - Italy
Heaters - Germany
Entrance doors - Germany
Toilet - Holland
Windows – Germany
Fridges – Holland
Fixed-bed frames - Germany
Cookers – UK (Although Spinflo is part of Thetford, so Holland really)
The fact that so many of the constituent parts of the modern touring caravan are bought in Euros means caravan pricing is intrinsically linked to exchange rate.
It’s not a theoretical link either. In 2008, when the Euro strengthened and the pound came under pressure, caravan prices rose sharply. A 2007 Swift Challenger 540 cost £13995. In 2011, the equivalent van costs £16635 and much of that difference is due to exchange rate.
So are cheaper tourers on the cards? I wouldn’t hold your breath.
A lot of the components used to build a caravan are priced at the start of the year when the order is placed. If the parts are bought at the wrong time of the year, there isn't a cost saving to pass on.
And although caravans are our hobby, for manufactures and dealers, caravans are a business. If there happens to be a spare pound note floating around inside the business and sales are holding up, there’s little incentive to drop prices.
But if the weakening Euro becomes a trend rather than a quirk, we may see prices of UK tourers drop. And if conditions allow, we might see some of the European caravan giants dip a toe in the UK market again.
If Dethleffs, Burstner and Hymer pushed back into UK dealers alongside Adria (who never left), it would certainly shake up the market, and that may make pricing keener.
And the wider choice of caravans on the market would be a welcome headache for UK buyers.