Although unemployment remains stubbornly high, sales of travel trailers and motorhomes have rebounded to some of their strongest levels in six years as consumers feel more confident about their personal wealth.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that in Wisconsin, there were 6,100 travel trailers sold in 2012, the highest amount since 2007, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich., firm that tracks sales in the recreational vehicle and recreational marine industries.
Low interest rates and stable fuel prices have helped boost sales, along with pent-up demand for the products. High unemployment in some parts of the nation is about the only thing holding sales back, said Tom Walworth, president of Statistical Surveys.
“As long as people feel confident in their jobs, and interest rates remain low, they will continue to buy things,” he said.
Leisure-product market trends affect hundreds of Wisconsin businesses and help drive the state’s tourism industry.
A full recovery in motorhome and camper sales will depend on the economy and consumer confidence. But spurred by retiring Baby Boomers and young families buying their first camper trailers, the long-term prospects for the RV industry look good.
Experienced RV enthusiasts, many of them retirees, were among the first to return to the equipment marketplace – if they left at all. They’ve been followed by first-time RV users, many of them under age 40, who are now a little more comfortable with their spending since the recession ended.
The RV industry has always been a leading economic indicator, according to Walworth.
“People watch the industry to see which way it’s going,” he said.
Burlington RV Superstore, in Sturtevant, said it had a 40% sales increase in 2012 from the prior year, and that it expects another 10% sales increase this year.
“We are in a nice growth mode again,” said Burlington President Tim Wegge.
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