RV shipments expected to decline through 2019

Roger Schneider | The Goshen NewsThe Keystone RV display area at the 2018 Elkhart County RV Open House is shown in this September file photo. The RV Industry Associateion reported RV shipments are expected to continue to decline through the end of this year and be down another 5.4 percent in 2019.

RESTON, Va. — Shipments of recreational vehicles from manufacturers to retailers are forecast to decline slightly in 2019, according to a study conducted for the RV Industry Association.

According to a news release from the RVIA, analyst Richard Curtin, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, wrote in his latest quarterly RV RoadSigns newsletter that 2019 shipments will range between 439,800 and 466,000 units with the most likely total to be 453,200 units. That amount would represent an annual decline of 5.4 percent.

RV shipments are expected to total 479,000 this year, which is itself a decline of 5.1 percent from the peak of 504,600 set in 2017. The industry has experienced eight successive years of growth.

While Curtin’s initial forecasts for 2018 were projected higher, RV shipments fell in the third quarter of 2018 to 107,130. This was down 11.9 percent from last year’s third quarter, following a much smaller annual decline of 0.8 percent in the second quarter. Despite the decline, according to the RVIA, the third quarter was still higher than any other third quarter on record since 1972. The recent decline was concentrated among conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers, as well as types A and C motorhomes. The smallest RV segments, type B motorhomes and slide-in truck campers, recorded small year-to-year gains.

“Income, employment and household wealth will continue to exert a positive force on RV sales, though these factors are expected to be slightly less favorable in the year ahead,” Curtin wrote.

Despite this, consumer confidence soared to an 18-year high in October, according to the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, and according to data from Stat Surveys, retails sales remain strong.

“The mild downturn in shipments reflects the impact of higher manufacturing costs for RV producers, and RV dealers adjusting their inventories due to changes in inventory carrying costs,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of RVIA. “All relevant economic factors have been favorable for so long that slippage at some point was inevitable. The good news is that RV manufacturers are already responding in ways that will set them up for future success, meeting a new generation of RVers’ demand for distinctive features and options.”

The RVIA has stated in the past that about 80 percent of all RVs sold in the United States are manufactured in northern Indiana.

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