RVIA’s ‘13 Industry Profile Shows RV Growth
The good news in the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 2013 Industry Profile released last week is that the RV industry is as strong as it’s ever been. Production and sales are up and the typical RV owner is younger than ever before.
The bad news, in turn, is that the bar has been raised even higher for this year and beyond for RV manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, dealers and campground owners, reports Mac Bryan, RVIA vice president for administration.
RVIA’s 2013 Industry Profile provides a statistical portrait of last year’s RV production and shipment statistics, including historical comparisons of shipment figures and dollar volume as well as production breakdowns by product type and shipment destination. And, again, the numbers all point to an industry that is healthy and growing.
Although some of the profile’s information was previously released, the annual publication tends to put things into perspective for the record. Wholesale RV shipments improved monthly and reached their highest annual level since 2007 at 321,100 units, a 12.4% increase over the previous year and nearly twice that of recession-riddled 2009 for the fourth consecutive annual increase since the end of the global downturn. At the same time, the total retail value of 2013 shipments reached $12.9 billion, a nearly 20% increase over 2012’s $10.8 billion for the highest total dollar value of shipments since 2007.
In acknowledging the positive numbers, Bryan insists that the current growth cycle is still underway. “When you adjust for the Hurricane Katrina aberration (in 2005),” he asserted, “we’re right where we were at the peak of the last cycle, so I don’t think this cycle is over yet. We’re calling for good growth this year and continued growth in 2015.”
As RV production and sales continue to rise, said Bryan, more and more families will discover the benefits and enjoyment of the RV lifestyle. RVIA maintains that there are an estimated nine million RVs on the road today – about one in every 12 vehicle-owning households – which is more than ever before.
“Clearly, the unit gains are quite strong across all vehicle categories, and this is the third year out of four where we’ve had double-digit gains. That’s quite a strong statement, and I don’t know if other industries can say the same,” Bryan said.
Putting 2013 into perspective:
• Towable RVs amounted to 88.1% of all RV shipments (282,795 units), while motorhomes represented 11.9% (38,332 units), the best motorized numbers since 2008.
• Towable RVs represented an $8 billion retail value, an improvement of 9.8% over 2012 – the best year for all towable products in six years. Leading the way were conventional travel trailers (197,443 units; $4.5 billion; an 11.6% increase from 2012) and fifth-wheels (70,592; $3.4 billion; up 7%).
• All motorized categories reported gains, registering $4.9 billion in retail value. Class A’s led the segment, up 30.7% to 19,054 units for a $3.2 billion retail value. Class C’s posted the largest percentage gains at 48.8% (17,101 units; $1.5 billion). Bryan singled out the 35.9% increase in motorhome shipments as a “good sign for the industry as a whole” with RV rental firms accounting for a significant amount of the Class C upswing.
• RVs with slideouts were as popular as ever with consumers. For instance, seven of every 10 conventional travel trailers had at least one slide, while 95% of all-fifth wheels had the popular space-expanding feature and the percentages for motorized units were just as dramatic.
• Indiana continued to lead the country in RV production, manufacturing 79.5% of all RVs in the U.S. Bryan sees this consolidation as a “maturing of the industry” not unlike what other industries such as automotive have experienced.
• Texas is the top destination for RV shipments, receiving 8.6% of total shipments, followed by California (6.36%), Michigan (4.65%), Florida (4.03%) and Ohio (3.69%). Nearly one out of every five RVs were shipped to Canada.
Meanwhile, a demographic profile of the RV consumer indicates that the average age of RV owners is trending younger, with the typical RV buyer’s age now down to 48 and getting younger. And 70% of current owners intend to purchase another RV. Most will upgrade, and most will own several RVs during their ownership life cycle. Related to this, the more people use their RVs, the more apt they are to purchasing a new one.
“Obviously, that’s good news,” Bryan said. “The younger an RV owner is, the sooner we can introduce him to the RV market, the more likely he is to stay in that market for a longer period of time, and the more likely he is to purchase more RVs during his stay.”