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.