Is RVing an economic recession indicator?


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Is there an economic recession looming? Many point to Elkhart County, Indiana, as the economic forecast hot spot. Since 80 percent of all U.S.-built RVs come from Indiana, and 65 percent from this county alone, when money is tight, big ticket items are the first things that folks stop buying – so the theory goes. So how goes it with big ticket RVs?

A local newspaper reports that wholesale shipments of RVs are down more than 20 percent, year-to-date. The county’s unemployment rate rose from 2.8 percent to 3 percent in June. May not sound like much, but all other counties in the state watched their unemployment rate go down at the same time. Too, the average number of work hours in Elkhart County dropped by four.

RV industry talking-heads say, don’t worry so much, their explanation of the slowdown in wholesale RV shipments was tied to too much RV dealer exuberance. Their spin on the matter is that dealers loaded up on inventory, thinking there would be a long-term buying frenzy, but RVers proved them wrong. Industry officials say it’s just an adjustment, and things will soon be looking good. They also note that RV shipments have dropped in five periods since 1981, but only three of those periods saw recessions thereafter.

It appears this will be another “time will tell” issue. Stay tuned.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Dry Creek

I would tend to agree that the overall quality of new RV’s aren’t quite what they were just 10 years ago. Does this drive new sales? I am not qualified to answer that, but what would be great is an in-depth look at used sales prices versus new. If older RV units have higher (perceived) quality than newer units, then we should be able to see an uptick in residual value (sales prices).
I hope that RVIA gets right on that and does some investigative reporting! I’m looking forward to their expose’.

If the older units become more desirable, maybe we will see the emergence of a new industry – RV restoration. The interiors will be thoroughly remodeled and provided with new (dependable?) appliances, while the drivetrain gets a once-over and refurbishment where required.

Colin Flagg

I hear buy used not new. Then why is my ten year old class A being turned away at Thousand Trails?

David Nowak

For the years I’ve been reading Rv travel, the number of complaints have been rising from new rig owners and the recommendations to buy used has been keeping up. Do you think the “word” got out and finally reached Elkhart?


So I’m wondering if the economy does slow down will I be able to get a campsite? Will the gas prices go down? I’m retired and financially okay but it could always be better

Jackie D

As a consumer I am in agreement with Ed D. Shoddy built junk is all we ever see at the RV dealerships. As the workmanship is now, I would never buy new. They build them cheap and sell them high. We have a 2008 Class A Pacifica and I would put my old RV up against any of the junk out there now. It is just built better. And, that’s how fast it’s all gone down hill.

Tim Woody

My thoughts are that after the Bush-Obama recession there was a pent up demand and sales were very hot for a while. As the demand has started to satisfied sales have slowed.


Listening to CNBC for the stockmarket figures yesterday (friday) the pres. Of Thor industries was going to be interviewed re: the slow down in the RV market ,but was unable to hear it. Maybe someone else did. The econ. Slowdown no dought.

Ed D.

Personally, it is my belief that the RV industry is experiencing a decrease in sales due to shoddy workmanship and the market being saturated with RV’s. Even Chuck says it is almost impossible to get a “last minute” RV spot at a campground these days. There have been so many horror stories about Camping World, that they are now rebranding and changing their name to “Gander RV”. So maybe the RV industry, as a whole, should clean up their act and begin to build on “quality”, noy “quantity”!

Donald Wright

So production slows on the monster RV industries assembly plants. How is production for the smaller RV’s , say, oh, twenty five feet or shorter?