Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. recently partnered with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) to contact 133 RV dealers regarding demand and sentiment during the third quarter. The following is a summary of the results.
RV momentum continues. Demand remains strong and inventory appears lean-to-balanced. We maintain a bullish fundamental outlook and would look to be more aggressive on weakness. We believe improved asset values (homes and investments) are fueling a wealth effect for RV buyers, releasing pent-up demand. With lean-to-balanced dealer inventory, it is a good environment for manufacturers. Meanwhile, we are losing confidence that a better opportunity will present itself.
Retail remains healthy. Dealers reported robust growth in motorhomes (+18-20%) and towables (+11-13%) in the third quarter. Baird believes better used values combined with a better housing market and higher stock prices have helped reduce the negative equity that had prevented consumers from purchasing new RVs.
Inventory is lean-to-balanced. Dealer inventory appears lean in motorhomes and balanced in towables. Measured in days, inventory appears flat versus last year – but motorhome dealers want more while towable dealers want less. A limited supply of Class A chassis has exacerbated the inventory shortage.
Discounting has abated. Dealers report a less promotional environment, suggesting better margins for manufacturers. In motorhomes, 30% of dealers report fewer OEM discounts versus 7% that report more. The same trend holds for towables, where 26% of dealers report fewer OEM discounts versus just 8% that report more.
Sentiment near record highs. The Baird/RVDA dealer sentiment index remains near record levels. Dealers are concerned that an ineffective government and the Affordable Care Act could throw a wrench in the engine – but overall, optimism reigns.
Please contact your Baird representative for a complete copy of the dealer survey.