Even somewhat higher fuel prices won’t likely be enough to slow growth in the RV industry, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune reported.
In fact, RV shipments could increase 9% to 263,100 units from 242,300 units in 2010, according to the latest prognostication by Richard Curtin, an economist at the University of Michigan.
The expected gains in 2011 will follow the recovery that took hold last year when shipments increased 46% to 242,300 units and northern Indiana RV plants began bringing back workers.
Curtin said sales growth, which will be across all segments of the industry, will be aided by an improving economy, the extension of income tax cuts and the reduction in payroll taxes. He cautioned that there will be a few factors that will moderate the growth pace of RV sales, including slow job and income growth and continued weakness in the housing market.
Bill Baker, director of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said the rebound won’t be hampered by moderate increases in fuel prices. “Fuel isn’t that big of a factor as long as it’s available,” he said, adding that most owners take RVs to a destination and then park them.
However, if fuel breaks price points never reached before — say $5 — all bets are off since the economy will likely also suffer, Baker said.
The continuing rebound in the industry is good news in Elkhart County and surrounding areas, where thousands of workers are employed in the industry. Officials have had their fingers crossed that the rebound is sustainable.
Baker said annual sales in the neighborhood of 300,000 are very good. The industry hit its modern-day peaks of 353,500 in 2007 and 390,500 in 2006.