The RV Industry Association’s July survey of manufacturers found that total RV shipments ended the month with 28,044 wholesale shipments, a decrease of 23.2% from the 36,525 units shipped last July.
Towable RVs, led by conventional travel trailers, totaled 25,002 units for the month, a decrease of 23.9% compared to last July’s total of 32,835 units. Motorhomes finished the month with 3,042 units, down 17.6% compared to the July 2018 total of 3,690 units.
Through July, RV shipments have reached 244,625 units, down 20.6% from the 308,113 units at this point in 2018. Shipments in 2018 dipped 4.1% from the previous year.
On Friday, Reuters reported that shipments of RVs are now expected to drop more sharply this year than previously projected as a slowing economy and a tariff-fueled surge in material costs bite into sales, according to an analysis done for the industry’s main trade group.
Manufacturers of the trailers and motorhomes, many around Elkhart, Indiana, are now expected to ship 401,200 units this year, a 17.1% drop from 2018. The industry previously projected it would ship 453,200 units, which would have meant a more modest 5.4% annual decline.
Companies such as Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc. have slashed production and cut back the work week to slow the pace of production. Economists looking for signs of a recession have typically held declining RV shipments as a strong warning of a contracting U.S. economy.
RV shipments have fallen sharply just before the last three U.S. recessions, so the decline has raised red flags for the economy.