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Curtin: RV Shipments Will Rise 39% This Year

June 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin

Richard Curtin

Richard Curtin has revised upward his already optimistic forecast for wholesale RV shipments for 2010.

His latest forecast, appearing in the Summer issue of RV Roadsigns, predicts shipments will total 230,300 units this year, a 39% gain over 2009. RV Roadsigns is published quarterly by the Recreation vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

In February, he forecast shipments in 2010 would total 215,900 units, a 30% increase over 2009. In December, Curtin projected 2010 shipments to reach 203,500 units. That was a step up from Curtin’s previous 2010 prognostication of 185,800 units and, before that, 169,500 units, the last of which was issued last June.

Curtin will be speaking on Wednesday (June 9) at a luncheon in the Century Center in South Bend, Ind., as part of the RVIA’s Committee Week.

Here is Curtin’s latest forecast:

“Total RV shipments rose to 59,900 in the first quarter of 2010, up from just 30,500 a year ago. This year-to-year gain in shipments was 96%, the largest ever recorded. The extraordinary gain was widely shared by conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers, as well as all types of motorhomes.

“RV shipments are expected to total 230,300 in 2010, an anticipated gain of 39% above the 2009 total of 165,700 units. The expected percentage gain will be the largest for Class A and Class C motorhomes, closely followed by conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers. While the initial surge in shipments was due to restocking depleted dealer inventories, sales of RVs to consumers will also improve in 2010.

“The industry is firmly on the road to recovery, although the overall pace of progress will slow in the second half of 2010. While improved, job and income growth will remain subdued, and the availability of credit will slowly improve in the year ahead. Volatility in financial markets, lackluster trends in home prices, and prospects for higher inflation, interest rates and taxes in the year ahead will keep consumers in a defensive spending posture. The lingering effects of the economic downturn on the lower end of the RV market will push shipments of folding camping trailers and truck campers as a share of the total market to the smallest level on record.”

Curtin’s forecast includes the following category shipment figures:

  • Travel trailers, 140,600.
  • Fifth-wheels, 50,000.
  • Folding camping trailers, 14,700.
  • Truck campers, 2,400.
  • Class A motorhomes, 11,200.
  • Class B motorhomes, 1,600.
  • Class C motorhomes, 9,800.

The New Normal

“A recovery that is slower and more variable will be the new normal for the RV industry. This means that keeping inventories in line with sales is both more important and more difficult than during past recoveries. It is more important since a costly mismatch between inventories and sales is more likely when variations in the pace of upward market growth are more common. It is more difficult to assess given the wide array of economic, financial and new regulations that will influence market trends in our increasingly globalized economy. Inventory management is about timing, and poor timing means either lost profits or lost sales. There is no doubt that it was necessary to restock depleted dealer inventories in advance of renewed strength in retail sales. A customer centric approach is now required, however, to closely align production with sales so as to provide the right selection of RVs at the right locations at the right time. The financial health of the entire industry, including manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, depends on the deployment of advanced inventory management techniques.”

RV Roadsigns is published quarterly and available to RVIA members at a password-protected link. Those who aren’t RVIA members can subscribe to the newsletter in the RVIA Store at www.rvia.org. Richard Curtin is affiliated with the University of Michigan Consumer Survey Research Center.

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Karlgaard to Speak During Committee Week

May 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine and a regular panelist on the business show ”Forbes on Fox,” will be the keynote speaker at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) annual meeting June 9 during RVIA’s Committee Week at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind., according to RVIA Express.

In a talk titled, “U.S. Outlook: Is the Recovery Durable?” Karlgaard will give an outlook for stocks, home prices and asset classes while also discussing which sectors of the economy will benefit from increased government intervention and which will lose ground. He will examine how the results of the 2010 midterm elections might change the business landscape and which products and services, growth models and economic regions are likely to perform best in the immediate future and in the long-term.

Also at the meeting, RVIA Chairman Jim Sheldon and RVIA President Richard Coon will discuss the state of the association and speak on a wide range of topics including government relations, standards, industry education and RVIA-sponsored trade shows. RVIA Treasurer Bob Olson will detail the association’s finances.

In a presentation titled, “RVIA Public Relations: The New Consumer and the Road Ahead,” RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and Gary LaBella , vice president and chief marketing officer, will provide an analysis of the post-recession consumer, examine the new Harris survey findings on the factors that influence RV purchase decisions and give an overview of the media exposure created for the RV industry through the association’s public relations programs.

In “Go RVing: We’re Back in the Saddle Again,” Go RVing Co-Chairman Bob Olson of Winnebago Industries Inc. and LaBella will provide a briefing on the award-winning ad campaign. RVIA will also honor industry and association leaders by presenting a host of awards.

At a luncheon immediately following the membership meeting, economist Richard Curtin, director of the Consumer Research Center at the University of Michigan, will provide his outlook for the RV market for the upcoming year. Curtin has directed RVIA’s RV Consumer Demographic Profile research for 30 years and authors the association’s quarterly RV Roadsigns newsletter.

For more information on the RVIA Membership Meeting and the industry forecast luncheon, contact RVIA’s Meetings and Shows Department at (703) 620-6003 ext. 305 or visit www.rvia.org.

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South Carolina Sees Upturn in Rec Business

April 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Cozy campers, morphing motorcycles and billowing boats are the types of vehicles that individuals, couples and families take out for fun and trips.

Unfortunately for those industries, far fewer people bought those products in 2009 than in previous years. Prime culprit: the lagging economy, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.

“It’s just everything hit us at one time,” said Gloria Morgan, owner of The Trail Center in North Charleston, S.C. “We are hoping for a recovery.”

This year is apt to be an improvement, national and Charleston area observers contend. Local retailers said people are wandering into showrooms and are shopping, if not in cruises, zooms and waves, at least in lurches, fits and trickles.

A few days with temperatures in the 80s hasn’t hurt locally.

“Naturally, the weather is warmer,” said Morgan, noting that customers are most intrigued with the center’s pop up campers from its main brand, Jayco. “The winter had been bad. They just want to get out and see.”

National figures paint a grim result for 2009 but a brightening outlook for this year. Consider:

  • Recreational vehicle shipments are projected to total 215,900 this year, up 30% from 2009, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Dealers are restocking inventory as sales continue to pick up.
  • RV shipments barely topped 165,000 last year, off 30.1% from 2008. “Lower shipments in 2009 were caused by the longest and deepest U.S. recession since the 1930s, the tightest credit conditions in several decades, job losses, falling household wealth, slower growth in real incomes and historically low consumer confidence,”  said Richard Curtin, RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan.
  • Motorcycle sales dropped 40.8% in 2009 from the year before, with 520,502 dual sport, off-road, street bike and scooters sold compared with 879,910 the year before, based on figures compiled by webBikeWorld.com. Street bikes make up the lion’s share of the market with more than 60% of all sales. The shallowest decline was in off-road cycles, which dropped 28.4% year to year.
  • There are pockets of growth in the cycle business this year: BMW Motorrad USA saw sales jump 52% in February from the year before.

Lowcountry revved up

The tough economy hasn’t stopped Charleston area motorsports dealers from expanding their operations. Velocity Powersports unveiled an expansive new retail center at Interstate 26 and College Park Road last year. American Biker of Charleston moved from cramped quarters to a roomy new building on Treeland Drive in Ladson.

On the boating scene, Sea Ray of Charleston found a home at the massive Sportsman’s Island center off I-526 at Clements Ferry Road selling Scout and Boston Whaler watercraft. Duncan’s Boats is moving back to its original spot on the Ashley River.

One edge for the recreational side of the motor vehicle business is the variety: people can choose from RVs, campers, jet skis, power boats, fishing vessels, motorcycles, trikes and scooters.

Charleston Powersports, which is in the process of moving into a much larger building, is seeing signs of sales improvement. It offers Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki motorcycles, two types of scooters, all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles, jet skis and jet boats.

“We carry something for everybody,” says Kyle Carter, sales manager.

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RVIA: Wholesale Shipments to Grow 30% in ’10

February 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RVIA logoWholesale RV shipments are expected to total 215,900 units in 2010, according to  Richard Curtin’s latest projection in the Spring 2010 issue of RV Roadsigns, quarterly forecast of RV deliveries to RV retailers published by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

The gain to 215,900 units would be a 30% rise over the 2009 year end total of 165,700 units. It is also a gain of 6% over Curtin’s most recent forecast delivered in winter, 2009. In December, Curtin projected 2010 shipments to reach 203,500 units. That was a step up from Curtin’s previous 2010 prognostication of 185,800 units and, before that, 169,500 units, the last of which was issued last June.

Curtin attributes the rising shipment totals seen in late 2009 and early 2010 to the restocking of dealer inventories as well as an improving trend in RV sales to consumers.

“There will be some economic conditions, such as lagging job and income growth and lingering credit constraints, that could slow the pace of progress,” said Curtin. “But, the industry is firmly on the road to recovery with the expected gains in RV shipments next year to be shared by travel trailers as well as motorhomes.”

RV Roadsigns is published quarterly and available to RVIA members at a password-protected link. Those who aren’t RVIA members can subscribe to the newsletter in the RVIA Store at www.rvia.org.

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Baird: Curtin 2010 Forecast Too Conservative

December 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

baird_new_logoEditor’s Note: The investment firm Robert W. Baird & Co. hosted an investor field trip to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.,  this week. Here are excerpts from the company’s report contained in a current client newsletter:

Action

Low dealer inventory and strong OEM backlogs have insiders optimistic, supporting our robust (wholesale) recovery scenario. We remain bullish on wholesale fundamentals, but prefer a margin of safety until the magnitude of the retail recovery becomes clearer.

Summary

Light attendance. Attendance was light, by our estimation. Our sources indicate attendance was flat after falling 40% in 2008 as dealers conserve resources. Investor interest was up.

Don’t worry. Be happy. We sensed relief and contrived optimism at the show. The “bottom” we and others identified earlier this year – which is evident in low dealer inventories and robust OEM backlogs – has nearly everyone focused on a better 2010. We continue to believe the return to a “normal” inventory replenishment rate will drive a robust recovery in 2010 – but retail demand must recover if the recovery is to be sustainable.

The bank is boss. More than ever, bank decisions about consumer credit and wholesale lending control the fate of the RV industry. By enforcing more disciplined inventory management and demanding that consumers/dealers have more “skin in the game,” banks will influence industry growth and determine the winners and losers. Having been caught holding distressed collateral from weaker OEMs, banks want better partners. In an industry with few barriers to entry – access to capital provides an opportunity for well-managed businesses. Among the winners, one banker listed Thor Industries Inc., Forest River Inc., Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Jayco Inc., Winnebago Industries Inc. and Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC.

Conservative RVIA forecast.  Richard Curtin revised his 2010 shipment forecast – but remains overly conservative in our view, especially in motorhomes. He sees 2010 towable shipments up 30% (up from 29%) and motorhome shipments up 25% (down from 27%). For perspective, we expect motorhome shipments to be up 108% at Winnebago.

Outlook. We remain bullish on fundamentals as a robust wholesale recovery unfolds, but prefer a better margin of safety.

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Coon Gives Positive Forecast at RVIA Breakfast

December 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Coon at Outlook Breakfast (Photo courtesy of RVIA)

Richard Coon at Outlook Breakfast (Photo courtesy of RVIA)

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon said today (Dec. 1) that the RV industry is primed and ready for recovery, emphasizing the continued popularity of RVing among customers and potential buyers and the recent uptick in wholesale RV shipments as evidence that the worst of times may be over for the RV industry.

Coon delivered this industry forecast at the  “Outlook 2010: Let the Sun Shine” market expansion showcase, kicking off the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

“We have survived the Great Depression…numerous recessions and market downturns…fuel crises…acts of terrorism and wars. But we have endured,” Coon said. “Why? Because RVs are woven into the fabric of America. Americans love RVing, they love our products and how they enrich their lives, allowing them to spend time in the great outdoors with loved ones.”

According to a news release, Coon pointed to a strengthening stock market, slowing job loss, higher productivity, increasing home sales, and rising manufacturing hours as reasons for economic optimism; while noting that weak consumer confidence, continued high unemployment and anemic consumer spending still present challenges.

But the most telling sign that the RV industry is on the road to recovery can be found in wholesale shipment numbers, which have been trending upward for several months. Coon reported that, in October, total units were 16,600, an increase of 23% over October 2008 shipments. Seasonally adjusted, October shipments hit an annual rate of more than 216,000 units, marking the third consecutive month that annualized shipments topped 200,000 units.

Based on these positive developments, Coon reported that University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin now forecasts wholesale shipments to finish this year at 159,500 units.

Looking ahead to 2010, Curtin sees RV shipments climbing by 27% to 203,500 units, with increases spread across all vehicle types:

  • Travel trailer shipments are expected to climb 31% to 130,400 units
  • Fifth-wheels are expected to jump 25% to 42,800 units
  • Folding camping trailers will increase by 11% to 13,900 units
  • Truck campers will see an 11% rise to 2,000 units.

Motorized segments are also expected to see gains:

  • Class A motorhome shipments are set to rise 20% to 6,100 units.
  • Class B motorhomes will hit 1,400 units on 17% growth
  • Class C motorhomes will increase by 30% to 6,900 units.

During his talk, Coon briefly outlined RVIA’s plans to lead celebrations of the RV industry’s 100th anniversary in 2010, and encouraged industry members to take part in noting the proud past and bright future of the industry. “As we head into a new year, we should all resolve to have the courage to believe in our industry’s recovery, and resolve to overcome these difficult times” he said.

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Curtin: Industry’s on a Gradual ‘Road to Recovery’

September 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite recent recessionary setbacks, relative gains posted thus far this year by travel trailers are pointing to a “road to recovery” for the RV industry, Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, reports in his fall “Roadsigns” prognostications for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

 “Total RV shipments were 42,300 in the second quarter of 2009,” he reports. “Although this was the lowest second quarter reading since 1982, year-to-year declines have begun to narrow, and signal that RV shipments are on the road to recovery. The greatest relative gains since the start of 2009 were made by travel trailers and the least by motorhomes.

 “While total RV shipments are expected to fall to 146,200 in 2009, the low point was in the first quarter,” he adds. “RV shipments can be expected to begin posting seasonally adjusted gains in the balance of 2009 and into 2010. The gains will focus on conventional travel trailers during the next year or so, although all types of RVs will begin to improve.”

 Looking ahead, Curtin predicts total shipments of 185,800 units in 2010, a 27% pickup from 2009 and a marginal upgrade from the 169,500 units he had forecast for 2010 back at RVIA Committee Week in June. While it’s definitely good news, those numbers still lag significantly behind the 237,000 shipments the industry posted in 2008 or, even more so, totals of 390,500 units in 2006.

 Curtin looks for renewed RV sales growth in the second half of ’09 due to improved economic conditions and the easing of the financial crisis. On the other hand, he warns, lagging consumer demand will remain a factor through most of next year due to continued job losses, shorter work hours, smaller income gains, tight credit and declines in household wealth as well as Americans’ need to restore savings and pension accounts.

 Most notably, he points out, motorhomes’ share of total shipments are expected to fall to 7.8%, about a third of the motorized share in 2000.

 “After the energy shocks of the 1970s,” adds Curtin, “motorhome sales bounced back to capture one-third of the total market from 1983 to 1990. Likewise, the current dominance of travel trailers is likely to yield market share over time due to the downsizing of household tow vehicles.”

 All in all, Curtin, however, continues to look for a slow – but certain – turnaround from the recent downturn.

 “The recent financial meltdown has affected every aspect of the RV industry, including manufacturers, dealers and consumers,” says Curtin. “The transformation of the industry has only begun and can be expected to be more comprehensive and require more restructuring than following any prior recession. Unlike past recoveries, the full restoration of RV sales will be slow and uneven.

 “Importantly, given the strong commitment of the consumers to the RV lifestyle, there is no question about the favorable prospects for the industry. It will simply take longer than usual for consumers to reestablish their economic footing following the longest and deepest recession since the 1930s. The same can be said about financial institutions as they have been slow to establish new regulations and restore more normal credit flows, a key to a healthy RV industy.”

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MSNBC.com: Americans are Still Yearning to RV

July 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: This is a recent installment of MSNBC.com’s Elkhart Project examining the impact of the recession on the RV industry.

Bill and Esthermay Brooks are nomads of the Interstate system. They’ve crossed the continental United States five times over the last 15 years, chalking up visits to all the lower 48 states in their national roving. They plan to steer their 35-foot-long Georgie Boy Pursuit motor home north to visit the 49th state, Alaska, in 2011.

“Our longest trip was five and a half weeks – we drove 10,000 miles and visited 22 states and Canada,” said Bill Brooks, a police officer from Cobb Island, Md. “Eventually, we have a goal of spending a whole month in every state. We want to do it while we’re still young enough.”

The Brooks, both 55, are living a peculiarly American dream. They are fierce adherents of the RV lifestyle, a strange blend of individualism and wanderlust that drives thousands of Americans to spend their summers barreling down the nation’s highways and back roads, stopping at campgrounds and meeting up at gatherings of other recreational vehicle enthusiasts.

But the RV lifestyle has stalled in recent years.

While a record 8.2 million RVs are crisscrossing the nation’s roads, it has been a terrible year for the industry. RV sales have plunged 65% from their peak just a few years ago, and the deep recession has hit the core RV demographic of those aged 40 to 60 particularly hard. They have endured sharp losses in their home values, stock portfolios and household wealth. Experts don’t expect much of a sales rebound for years to come.

“These factors have really hit the industry hard, and I think 2009 will be a tough one for the industry,” said University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin, who studies the RV industry. “I think we’ll see fewer RVs sold than at any time since 1980.”

When gas prices hit $4 a gallon last summer, many RVers left their motorhomes in the driveway rather than shoulder the cost of a vehicle that might get only, at best, 10 miles per gallon.

RV sales have cratered since hitting a peak of 390,000 units in 2006. Curtin expects sales of just 136,500 units this year, down 65% from the peak. Sales could rise to about 169,500 units in 2010, Curtin said, although given the uncertain economic outlook the figures could change by 15% in either direction, he said.

While the weak economy has dented the RV business, it’s not a complete write-off, Curtin said. He says campgrounds and national parks are reporting strong RV visits, with some completely booked for the summer. This underscores the strong American desire to camp and travel, and it’s why he thinks the RV industry eventually will bounce back.

“The RV industry follows the cycles in the economy. When times are good, RV sales are good, but when the economy goes bad, RV sales are terrible,” he said. “It will take time for the industry to fully recover.”

The slow recovery means trouble for the nation’s RV manufacturers and dealers. When industry sales peaked, the market was saturated with vehicles, said Curtin. Dealers are now trying to sell many of those vehicles at deep discounts, making new sales especially challenging, he said. In addition, credit is still hard to get for RV buyers.

That means more bad news for Elkhart, Ind., the center of the nation’s RV manufacturing business, where massive job cuts in the region’s manufacturing sector have helped to push the area’s unemployment rate to 17.5%, nearly twice the national average. Other RV manufacturing centers like Forest City, Iowa, where motorhome manufacturer Winnebago Industries Inc. is based, also are likely to suffer, said Curtin.

And RV dealers are feeling the pain. More so than cars, RVs are a luxury item that most consumers will put off buying during harsh economic times. In an industry research report published in April, market analysis company IBISWorld forecast that hundreds of RV dealers will go under as operators cut staff and reduce costs. IBISWorld expects the number of RV dealers to fall by 12% in 2009.

Industry revenue was down 22.5% to $15.5 billion in 2008, and a further decline of 19.6% is expected in 2009, with revenue sliding to $12.5 billion, according to IBISWorld.

Over the next five years RV sales are expected to rebound, supported by a stronger economy, with the biggest improvement expected in 2011 and 2012, according to IBISWorld.

Curtin is also bullish on the RV life, with its opportunities for camping, fishing and visiting national monuments. Many younger RVers are taking up the pastime, and the industry is moving forward with more lightweight, fuel-efficient and “greener” RVs, he said.

Greener, lighter RVs

“The buzz in the industry is how can we adapt and change to deal with the poor sales,” he said. “After all, this is essentially a small house on wheels and it uses a lot of energy, primarily for driving and cooking, so there are lots of opportunities to save and conserve energy. For this reason I think the industry is determined to make sure they can have green and more energy efficient units all round.”

Earlier in the decade, when large sport utility vehicles were the rage, there was strong demand for large, towable travel trailers and “fifth-wheel” trailers, which make up about 80% of RV sales. With a trend toward more sales of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, RV manufacturers are going to have to find ways to make their vehicles lighter and more easily towed, said Curtin.

The RV industry has developed few new products in recent years, slowing the industry’s growth. Only when RV manufacturers produce a vehicle that is green and fuel efficient will the industry see another group of strong growth years, noted IBISWorld in its report. This will be especially true if gas prices rise.

Demand from retiring Baby Boomers, broadly defined as those born between 1943 and 1965 and the largest market segment for RVs, also is expected to spur growth in sales.

According to an estimate from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), up to 30 million people consider themselves RV enthusiasts. A typical RV owner is in his or her mid-50s, married, owns a home and has an annual household income of over $70,000.

For the Brookses, an RV trip is quite simply the cheapest vacation around. When they weighed an RV trip against taking an airplane and staying at a hotel, the RV option worked out to be about 50% cheaper.

Bill Brooks figures he saves close to $100 a day in food alone by cooking in the RV instead of eating out.

Then there are the intangible benefits of being on the open road, he said.

“When you’re sleeping in a RV, you know who slept in that bed last night, and you know who washed those dishes or cleaned that glass,” said Bill Brooks. “So having that peace of mind, that’s the mindset of many campers. They like to be in their own space with their own things.”

“My sister’s idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service – she wants to jet to wherever she’s going and get there and back as quickly as possible, but RV-ers like to stop and smell the roses,” he said. “They like to pull over and read a road sign, or see a historic market; they want to travel the blue roads, meet the locals and talk to them.”

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Newmar: Gaining Market Share with Its Gas Products

July 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

newmar-logoSales have picked up for Newmar Corp.’s towable and core diesel and gas products, according to company executives attending the 8nd Annual Family Motor Coach Association Convention (FMCA) in Bowling Green, Ohio, which ended Thursday.

”We’ve been in production either four or five days a week for the last 12 weeks,” said Kyle McCrary, director of luxury products and product design for the Nappanee, Ind., manufacturer. ”Our towables and our core diesels and gas (motorhomes) are doing extremely well. The high-end is still a little slow, a little challenging.”

Newmar Chairman Matt Miller also said that Newmar’s recently announced program of providing maintenance and repairs for non-Newmar products has gone well. ”We see a need for disenfranchised owners who perhaps don’t have a place to go to get service,” Miller said.

About 2,600 coaches pre-registered for the FMCA convention on the grounds of Bowling Green State University and Wood County Fairgrounds about 25 miles south of Toledo.

While not suggesting that things have turned around completely, McCrary said that Newmar expects business to pick up in 2010, primarily agreeing with Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) who estimates that wholesale shipments will increase by 24% next year.

”We are gaining market with our gas products,” McCrary said. ”Some of that has to do with changes that we made in our products, but it also has to do with some of the economic issues that our competitors have faced.”

He said some prospective high-end buyers are concerned about the tax policies that are being discussed in Congress and by the Obama administration.

McCrary noted that ”financial issues” are continuing to vex the industry, on both the wholesale and retail sides of the equation but not to the degree they did earlier in the year.

”We are seeing a definite turn, a trend,” McCrary said. ”We are seeing us start to move out of this bottleneck that was created by the lack of banks’ lending money, whether it was on the wholesale or retail end of it.

”But the (lack of credit) has created a huge pent up demand,” he said. ”When this thing does finally move, we are ready for it. We see that it is happening. It is definitely coming.”

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Curtin: 24% Hike for Shipments in 2010 over 2009

June 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The recreation vehicle industry’s shipments are projected to total approximately 169,500 units in 2010 – a 24% increase from the 136,500 predicted for 2009 – according to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin, released at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Annual Membership Meeting today (June 9).

Seasonally adjusted shipments reached their low point in the first quarter of 2009, and gains are expected over the next two years as the negative financial factors that caused the steep drop in RV sales will slowly give way to improved conditions in the market.  

Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, which produces the closely watched monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment, briefed RVIA members on his analysis of the industry’s future at RVIA’s annual Committee Week, being held this week in Washington, DC.

“The persistent appeal of the RV lifestyle as well as the good economic value provided by this form of recreation will energize future growth in the RV market, once again driving the RV market to higher levels,” said Curtin.

In addition, RVIA President Richard Coon addressed key issues critical to the industry’s long-term profitability, including the need to continue RVIA’s work to secure sufficient RV wholesale and retail financing, vehicle fuel economy, and the growing “green” movement.

Curtin said there is considerable uncertainty about the future course of the economy as well as future RV sales.  This uncertainty means that RV shipments in 2010 could as much as 15% more or less than his forecast.

“This is the longest and deepest U.S. recession of the past half century,” said Curtin. “However, while fluctuations in sales are expected, there has been no change in the strong preferences expressed by consumers for the RV lifestyle.”

Consumer confidence has surged in recent months because of optimism about the Obama administration’s economic stimulus efforts and financial reforms, which RVIA worked hard to be sure included the RV industry.  While these programs will aid consumers, Curtin said the pace of gains in RV sales will be more gradual than in the initial phase of past recoveries because of lingering effects from the credit crisis, slow economic growth and higher levels of unemployment.  In addition, the priorities of many consumers have shifted toward debt repayment and restoration of savings and retirement accounts. 

Curtin emphasized that economic adversity has caused consumers to postpone the purchase of an RV but not to forsake their commitment to the RV lifestyle.

“The RV industry is in the business of helping families form lasting bonds and having a great time getting outdoors,” said Coon. “Those are core American values that will endure and create a lasting demand for RVs.”

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