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Curtin: RV Shipments Will Rise 39% This Year

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June 4, 2010 by   Leave a Comment

Richard Curtin

Richard Curtin

Richard Curtin has revised upward his already optimistic forecast for wholesale RV shipments for 2010.

His latest forecast, appearing in the Summer issue of RV Roadsigns, predicts shipments will total 230,300 units this year, a 39% gain over 2009. RV Roadsigns is published quarterly by the Recreation vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

In February, he forecast shipments in 2010 would total 215,900 units, a 30% increase over 2009. In December, Curtin projected 2010 shipments to reach 203,500 units. That was a step up from Curtin’s previous 2010 prognostication of 185,800 units and, before that, 169,500 units, the last of which was issued last June.

Curtin will be speaking on Wednesday (June 9) at a luncheon in the Century Center in South Bend, Ind., as part of the RVIA’s Committee Week.

Here is Curtin’s latest forecast:

“Total RV shipments rose to 59,900 in the first quarter of 2010, up from just 30,500 a year ago. This year-to-year gain in shipments was 96%, the largest ever recorded. The extraordinary gain was widely shared by conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers, as well as all types of motorhomes.

“RV shipments are expected to total 230,300 in 2010, an anticipated gain of 39% above the 2009 total of 165,700 units. The expected percentage gain will be the largest for Class A and Class C motorhomes, closely followed by conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers. While the initial surge in shipments was due to restocking depleted dealer inventories, sales of RVs to consumers will also improve in 2010.

“The industry is firmly on the road to recovery, although the overall pace of progress will slow in the second half of 2010. While improved, job and income growth will remain subdued, and the availability of credit will slowly improve in the year ahead. Volatility in financial markets, lackluster trends in home prices, and prospects for higher inflation, interest rates and taxes in the year ahead will keep consumers in a defensive spending posture. The lingering effects of the economic downturn on the lower end of the RV market will push shipments of folding camping trailers and truck campers as a share of the total market to the smallest level on record.”

Curtin’s forecast includes the following category shipment figures:

  • Travel trailers, 140,600.
  • Fifth-wheels, 50,000.
  • Folding camping trailers, 14,700.
  • Truck campers, 2,400.
  • Class A motorhomes, 11,200.
  • Class B motorhomes, 1,600.
  • Class C motorhomes, 9,800.

The New Normal

“A recovery that is slower and more variable will be the new normal for the RV industry. This means that keeping inventories in line with sales is both more important and more difficult than during past recoveries. It is more important since a costly mismatch between inventories and sales is more likely when variations in the pace of upward market growth are more common. It is more difficult to assess given the wide array of economic, financial and new regulations that will influence market trends in our increasingly globalized economy. Inventory management is about timing, and poor timing means either lost profits or lost sales. There is no doubt that it was necessary to restock depleted dealer inventories in advance of renewed strength in retail sales. A customer centric approach is now required, however, to closely align production with sales so as to provide the right selection of RVs at the right locations at the right time. The financial health of the entire industry, including manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, depends on the deployment of advanced inventory management techniques.”

RV Roadsigns is published quarterly and available to RVIA members at a password-protected link. Those who aren’t RVIA members can subscribe to the newsletter in the RVIA Store at www.rvia.org. Richard Curtin is affiliated with the University of Michigan Consumer Survey Research Center.

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