The recreation vehicle industry’s shipments are projected to total approximately 169,500 units in 2010 – a 24% increase from the 136,500 predicted for 2009 – according to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin, released at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Annual Membership Meeting today (June 9).
Seasonally adjusted shipments reached their low point in the first quarter of 2009, and gains are expected over the next two years as the negative financial factors that caused the steep drop in RV sales will slowly give way to improved conditions in the market.
Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, which produces the closely watched monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment, briefed RVIA members on his analysis of the industry’s future at RVIA’s annual Committee Week, being held this week in Washington, DC.
“The persistent appeal of the RV lifestyle as well as the good economic value provided by this form of recreation will energize future growth in the RV market, once again driving the RV market to higher levels,” said Curtin.
In addition, RVIA President Richard Coon addressed key issues critical to the industry’s long-term profitability, including the need to continue RVIA’s work to secure sufficient RV wholesale and retail financing, vehicle fuel economy, and the growing “green” movement.
Curtin said there is considerable uncertainty about the future course of the economy as well as future RV sales. This uncertainty means that RV shipments in 2010 could as much as 15% more or less than his forecast.
“This is the longest and deepest U.S. recession of the past half century,” said Curtin. “However, while fluctuations in sales are expected, there has been no change in the strong preferences expressed by consumers for the RV lifestyle.”
Consumer confidence has surged in recent months because of optimism about the Obama administration’s economic stimulus efforts and financial reforms, which RVIA worked hard to be sure included the RV industry. While these programs will aid consumers, Curtin said the pace of gains in RV sales will be more gradual than in the initial phase of past recoveries because of lingering effects from the credit crisis, slow economic growth and higher levels of unemployment. In addition, the priorities of many consumers have shifted toward debt repayment and restoration of savings and retirement accounts.
Curtin emphasized that economic adversity has caused consumers to postpone the purchase of an RV but not to forsake their commitment to the RV lifestyle.
“The RV industry is in the business of helping families form lasting bonds and having a great time getting outdoors,” said Coon. “Those are core American values that will endure and create a lasting demand for RVs.”