For a year that started out with some ominous economic signals — and still faces some substantial challenges — the summer forecast for RV shipments issued this week by Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Research Center on behalf of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association presents a relatively comforting view of the year at hand.
Looking at the first quarter’s wholesale shipment results — totaling 65,100 units, an 8.7% year-to-year gain — Curtin concludes that the industry has shown “remarkable strength” during the past year and will continue to do so by posting a 7.4% gain in 2011 shipments.
“Following 2010, which recorded the largest annual percentage gain since the mid-1960’s, total RV shipments are expected to post a solid annual gain of 7.4% in 2011, rising to 260,200 units,” wrote Curtin in RVIA’s quarterly RV Roadsigns forecast. “Seasonally adjusted RV shipments are expected to remain unchanged through most of 2011, showing some renewed strength at year-end and into the start of 2012.
“The positive RV outlook is based on favorable economic factors that outweigh the negative,” added Curtin. “There is no doubt that consumers suffer under the weight of rising food and fuel prices, minuscule wage increases, high unemployment and the threat of higher taxes at all levels of government. The primary impact of increased fuel prices, along with higher food prices, is to diminish consumers’ discretionary incomes. On the positive side, RV demand will benefit from improving credit conditions, employment gains, stabilization of the housing market and a strong preference to continue in the RV lifestyle.”
All in all, Curtin posits, RV manufacturers should continue to thrive throughout 2011 and into 2012 based on “their ability to deliver the right selection of RVs at the right location at the right time, providing the same treasured experiences to families who now have more restricted budgets.”