Wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs continued to improve in 2012, reporting totals of 18,976 units in RVIA’s September survey of manufacturers – a gain of 12.7% over the same month one year ago. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments in September were at an annualized rate of 254,400 units, down 10.6% from the August pace and the lowest annualized total since January of this year. Even so, actual September shipments of all towable RVs were up 10.3% from the same month one year ago while all motorhome shipments were up 34.6%.
Comparing the past nine-month period to the same period one year ago, all RVs were reported at 221,281 units in 2012, a gain of 10.7% year-to-date. Travel trailer shipments have grown by 16,446 units this year and continue to command the largest unit volume of all vehicle types. Fifth-wheel travel trailers have gained 3,986 units while Class A motorhomes were up 719 units and Class C motorhomes improved by 385 units compared to this same period one year ago. Only folding camping trailers were lower in volume through September this year as compared to the corresponding nine-month period in 2011.
RV shipments are expected to total 273,600 units in 2012, a gain of 8.4% over 2011’s total of 252,300 units and the highest level since 2007, according to the fall quarterly forecast of wholesale RV deliveries to dealers prepared for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) by Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan Consumer Survey Research Center.
Curtin expects RV shipments to edge up in 2013 to 275,000 units, with conventional travel trailers again posting most of the gains.
Indeed, the story of the industry’s gradual resurgence from the global recession is pretty consistent in terms of categorical strengths, with travel trailers posting particularly good numbers in a second quarter that grew 5.7% overall – the best performance, again, in nearly five years and the fifth best quarter ever.
Despite the challenging economy, notes Curtin, the strong appeal of these towable RVs has powered the revival.
“The dominance of conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers has transformed the industry by acquiring shares from motorhomes and folding campers,” writes Curtin. “For every motorhome shipped, 9.4 travel trailers are expected to be shipped in 2012, nearly double the 4.8 recorded in the last decade, and well above the 2.2 to 1 ratio in the 1990s and the 1.3 to 1 in the 1980s. Folding camping trailers now account for 1 of every 25 RV shipments, down from 1-in-5 in the 1980s and 1990s.”
Curtin, meanwhile, points out in RVIA’s quarterly Roadsigns newsletter what it will take in his view for the weaker product categories to regain more relative strength.
“While the RV segments that are now the weakest will always retain devoted buyers, to regain the old segment shares requires new innovative products that provide consumers with more value for the dollar,” maintains Curtin, reiterating a theme he focused on back at RVIA Committee Week in June. “Winning back customers is never easy. In the absence of robust growth in consumer’s ability to buy, new products must energize their willingness to buy.”
Shipments to retailers of all RV products were reported at 27,534 units in the June survey of manufacturers, a decline of 5.3% compared to last month but an increase of 3.2% over this same month last year. Towable RVs improved 3.7% on shipments of 25,208 units while motorhome shipments were off 1.4% on 2,326 units shipped to dealers in June. Seasonally adjusted, June’s total represented an annualized rate of 270,000 units. Year to date, shipments of all RVs were reported at 154,988 units and were ahead of the halfway point last year by almost 11,000 units. Through June, towable RVs led the way, increasing 8.6% over this same period a year ago on shipments of 140,412 units while motorhomes were off 1.2% on shipments of 14,576 units.
Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter to investors following the May shipments report from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The following offers a summary of the results.
May shipments up 6%. Total RV wholesale shipments improved 6% in May on growth in both motorhomes and towables. The trend represents an acceleration from a weak start to the year in motorhomes and a slowdown in towable shipments — possibly reflecting relatively lower dealer inventory in motorhomes heading into the summer months.
• Towable shipments up 6%. Travel trailer shipments grew 9%, while fifth-wheel shipments fell 3%. Wholesale growth slowed in May following a stronger April (+14%). Through the first five months of 2012, towable shipments were up 11%.
• Motorhome shipments up 5%. Class A shipments improved 8%, while Class C shipments grew 3%. Motorhome shipments grew in May due to lean dealer inventory and an easier prior-year comparison. Through the first five months of 2012, motorhome shipments were down 2%.
• Winnebago results. Winnebago recently reported motorhome shipments flat in its May quarter, versus a 3% decline in industry shipments over the same period, implying a modest share gain in motorhomes.
• SAAR. We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments increased to 30.5K units in May, from 23.6K units in April (24.8K units were shipped in 2011). The SAAR of towable shipments increased to 264K units in May, from 228K units in April (213K units were shipped in 2011).
This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at email@example.com.
The recreational vehicle industry’s shipments are expected to reach 269,700 units in 2012, 6.9% above the 2011 total of 252,300.
According to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin, released at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Joint Committee Luncheon today (June 11), shipments will rise to 280,000 units in 2013, a gain of 3.8% from the projected total for 2012.
“RVs are a bellwether industry,” said Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan who produces the monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment, during his presentation to RVIA members at the association’s annual Committee Week in Washington, D.C. “I expect the RV market to consistently grow at a moderate pace over the next two years.”
The industry’s growth is a sign of the RV’s position in American culture, Curtin told RVIA members at the luncheon. According to Curtin, RVs have always been purchased as a means of achieving some valued outcome. Evidence from recent studies continue to support the traditional industry label of RVs being a family-oriented product.
The positive RV outlook comes at a time when fundamental changes have taken root in the economy, in consumer demand, and in the RV market.
“Future RV buyers will be both younger and older than before,” said Curtin. “They will likely have more limited budgets, own smaller tow vehicles, and will live and play in different locations.”
“The RV’s iconic status is based on consumers’ strong desire to own an RV,” said Curtin. “This reflects deeply held family values, the enduring appeal of the natural environment, and people’s desire to instill in the next generation their cherished traditions.”
While Curtin anticipates that core demand for RVs will remain strong in the decades ahead, he said the RV units themselves will continue to evolve at an escalating pace.
“Just as today’s vehicles are similar, but completely different than yesterday’s, tomorrow’s RVs need to be transformed to meet the needs of an ever-changing consumer,” Curtin said.
“Consumers have only begun express their changing RV preferences to match their changing economic circumstances and lifestyles,” Curtin said. “Consumers want an equivalent RV experience at a price that meets their new budget constraints. These limitations are likely to persist for some years to come. Importantly, lasting gains will come from innovative features and quality improvements based on a consumer-centric approach to each segment.”
The RV market continued to strengthen through the first four months of this year with total year-to-date shipments reaching 98,400 units through April, a gain of 9.7% over the 89,700 units shipped during the same time frame in 2011.
Towable RV shipments were up 11.3% in April, rising from 80,000 units through April 2011 to 89,000 units through April 2012. Motorhome shipments were off 3%, dropping to 9,400 units this year as compared to 9,700 units last year through April, according to a news release.
Monthly wholesale shipments to retailers of 27,000 units were reported in the April Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) survey of manufacturers, 9.8% more than in April last year. Towable RVs rose to 24,500 units in April, a gain of 12.4% over April one year ago while motorhome shipments were off 10.7% this month to 2,500 units.
The performance of the RV market through early 2012 is tracking with the year-end industry projections made by Richard Curtin in the Summer 2012 issue of RV Roadsigns, RVIA’s quarterly forecasting newsletter. Curtin expects RV shipments to total 269,700 units this year, a gain of 6.9% over 2011 and the highest annual total since 2007.
The outlook for continued growth in RV sales is based on slow but consistent gains in jobs and incomes during the balance of 2012. Improved economic conditions and low interest rates will also support the expansion of RV sales. Stabilization of home prices as well as initial gains in home construction will begin to turn the past negative drag of the factors to a small positive. On the negative side, uncertainty about federal spending and future taxes is likely to moderate sales toward the end of the year and into early 2013.
RV wholesale shipments to retailers of 27,000 units were reported in the April RVIA survey of manufacturers, 9.8% more than this same month last year. Towable RVs rose to 24,500 units in April, a gain of 12.4% over April one year ago while motorhome shipments were off 10.7% this month to 2,500 units. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments in April were at an annual rate of 262,700 units, slightly less than the previous month but well ahead of the annual total in 2011 of 252,300 units.
Year to date, shipments of all RVs through April this year were at 98,400 units, up 9.7% over the first four months last year with all the gain coming from improved towable shipments. Although motorhomes were off 3.1% through April, shipments were down just 300 units compared to this same period last year.
Wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs were reported at 28,100 units in the March 2012 survey of manufacturers conducted by RVIA. This was the best March total since 2008 and 2.2% ahead of this same month last year. Improvements were largely the result of gains in fifth-wheels with small losses to truck campers and Class A motorhomes.
Through the first three months this year, total RV shipments increased to 71,400 units, a gain of 9.7% over the same period last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments in March this year were at an annualized rate of nearly 270,000 units with towable categories responsible for most of the improvement.
RV wholesale shipments for all of 2011 reached 252,300 units in 2011, up 4.1% over 2010’s year-end total. Towable RVs were higher while motorhomes totals were slightly lower. All towable RVs climbed to 227,500 units in 2011, up 4.8% compared to one year ago. During the same period, all motorhomes were slightly less in 2011 than 2010, finishing at 24,800 units for all of 2011, off 1.6% from their annual total one year earlier.
For December, wholesale shipments of all RVs were reported at 16,900 units , 3.6% better than November’s total but 7.7% less than this same month the prior year. Shipments of both towable and motorhome categories were less in December compared to one year ago with only travel trailers greater than December 2010. On a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis, December shipments were just over 283,000 units, slightly lower than the November rate. See the entire report below.
The RV industry pointed Tuesday (Nov. 29) to a slight improvement from last year’s turnaround performance as another sign the recession-dented sector is on the road to recovery. But, according to an Associated Press report, a slight speed bump might be on the horizon.
RV makers, dealers and suppliers attending the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., were told that 2011 shipments from manufacturers to dealers are expected to be up 2% from last year’s 242,300 shipped units. The 2010 total amounted to a 46% gain from 2009.
“You guys sitting in this room today are all survivors in this industry, and I think that bodes very well,” said Richard A. Coon, president of the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which annually hosts the trade-only show.
Despite the upswing, the recreational vehicle industry still has considerable ground to cover to catch up with pre-recessionary levels.
In 2007, shipments totaled 353,400 — the fourth-highest figure in the past quarter century. By 2009, shipments slumped to 165,700 units as older RVs parked on dealers’ lots drew scant interest from cash-conscious consumers.
Consumers remain jittery by stubbornly high unemployment, sagging home values and a volatile stock market. As a result, the industry is bracing for a projected 2.6% decline in RV shipments in 2012, based on a forecast by University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin.
“It plays with the psyche of those people that are in our target market,” said Bob Olson, chairman of RV maker Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa, and co-chairman of the industry’s Go RVing Coalition.
Despite lackluster consumer confidence, Olson said there have been favorable trends — dealer inventories have improved and consumer credit has become more available, especially for less-expensive towable RVs attached to pickups or hitched to the back of another vehicle.
“A lot of tough decisions were made by everybody in that room in order to be here today,” Olson said following the trade show’s Outlook Breakfast. “You didn’t find anybody in the RV industry getting a bailout. We did it the old-fashioned way, with some pretty tough decisions.”
Since 2008, the number of RV manufacturers has dropped by 35%, Coon said. The ranks of suppliers fell by 32%. Everyone had to make adjustments to survive the nation’s worst recession since the Great Depression.
Tom Stinnett, an RV dealer in nearby southern Indiana and co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition, said he reshuffled his inventory to focus mostly on towables. Before the recession, his lot was divided between towables and more costly stand-alone motorhomes.
Towables cost between $6,000 and $100,000, according to RVIA. Stand-alone motor homes range from $50,000 to as much as $400,000 for top-of-the-line, bus-like vehicles.
Stinnett said his business is profitable again after several “brutal years of downsizing and reorganizing.”
“We have nowhere to go but up,” he said. “Three years ago, we were very, very worried about making it through this disastrous time.”
AP reported that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also gave a pep talk to the industry.
“Your best days are still ahead,” he said before briefly touring a sprawling convention hall filled with the industry’s newest models.
Salazar said investments in conservation and outdoor recreation would help fuel job growth. He cited a study showing more than 8.4 million U.S. jobs are created every year thanks to outdoor recreation.
In 2010, RV travelers spent nearly 2.3 million nights at national parks, up 10% from 2008, he said.
“RV owners are often great champions for conservation as they know firsthand that the investments we make in our parks, historic sites and other public lands not only allow people to enjoy these incredible places, but they also help grow local economies across the country,” Salazar said.
Employment is also on the rebound in the industry.
RV manufacturers and suppliers now employ about 375,000 people, up about 50% since November 2008, according to RVIA. But the overall work force is still down from the more than 500,000 workers before the recession.