Growth in RV Sales Bodes Well for Economy

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July 14, 2014 by   Comments Off on Growth in RV Sales Bodes Well for Economy

Some friends of Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, sold their home last month to visit every national park in a recreational vehicle, while another acquaintance bought a boat at a show.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported that such anecdotal evidence helps make it “less surprising and more encouraging” that sales of RVs and pleasure craft are poised for another year of improvement, says Chicago-based Ablin, who helps manage $66 billion in assets. Americans are determined to “hold onto their leisure time,” so monitoring these purchases offers a “very important” consumer gauge.

With summer well under way, both industries appear to be heating up, suggesting confidence has improved. Sales of recreational vehicles are poised to approach a pre-recession peak this year, which bodes well for the still-recovering U.S. boat business.

Shipments of new towable campers and motorized RVs were “quite strong” in the first half of 2014, bucking some concerns about the resiliency of demand coming into the year, said Mac Bryan, a vice president at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. This suggests the industry could achieve projected gains of 10 percent, with shipments less than 1,000 units off the 350,000 pre-recession peak, he said, citing an estimate from the Reston, Virginia, trade group.

“What’s unique about this growth spurt is that it follows four years of improved shipments,” Bryan said. Despite harsh winter weather that contributed to about six days of lost production, manufacturers were able to recover and meet pent-up demand, he said.

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