Can it be — shipments of RVs actually declining after eight straight years of growth?
According to a news release from the RV Industry Association (RVIA), analyst Richard Curtin, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, predicts 2019 shipments will range between 439,800 and 466,000 units with the most likely total to be 453,200 units. That would represent an annual decline of 5.4 percent.
That will be the second straight year of declines. RV shipments this year, 2018, are expected to total 479,000, a 5.1 percent decline from the peak year of 504,600 in 2017.
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.
“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.”