A-frame folding camping trailer manufacturer Chalet RV Inc., Albany, Ore., has been aggressively expanding its product offerings. That was made apparent at last week’s 47th Annual National RV Trade show, where the company unveiled a triple-slide truck camper and a small fifth-wheel. Chalet president Chris Hanson calls the company’s new truck camper a “modular Class C.” ”All you have to buy is the power unit (pickup truck),” Hanson said. The 11 1/2-foot camper, with a base retail of $37,799, is equipped with opposing slideouts and a third that comes off the back of the unit, creating a true Class C feel. At the show, Chalet also introduced the 21 1/2-foot Takena5 fifth-wheel with a single galley slideout for a base retail price of $14,900. A 19-foot fifth-wheel is in development.
Total RV deliveries to retailers were 13,300 units in May this year, the same total recorded one month earlier but off 46.8% from this same month last year, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported today (June 26).
Motorhome totals were slightly better than the previous month, while towables were slightly less. On a seasonally adjusted basis, May’s total represented an annual rate of 141,000 units, an increase of 7.5% over last month.
Year-to-date, totals have now reached 57,000 units through May, off 59% compared to this same period last year. While all vehicle types are lower this year than last, Class A motorhomes continue to experience the largest percentage decline.
By segment the May report had these additional findings:
- 7,900 travel trailers, off 41.5%.
- 2,700 fifth-wheels, down 55%.
- 1,300 folding camping trailers, off 43.5%.
- 200 truck campers, down 60%.
- 400 Class A motorhomes, down 66.7%.
- 700 Class C motorhomes, a 46.2% decline.
- 100 Class B motorhomes, off 50%.
The ongoing recession and tight credit will continue to affect RV sales in 2009, according to the latest research of economist Richard Curtin, director of Consumer Surveys at the University of Michigan.
In his Summer issue of Roadsigns, which is prepared for members of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Curtin said RV shipments are expected to decline to 136,500 units this year. While this estimate is well below his forecast of 186,600 issued last November, it is a slight improvement from his forecast that appeared in the Spring 2009 Issue of Roadsigns, when he estimated total shipments this year would retreat to 130,100 units
Curtin will expand upon his latest forecast as one of the featured speakers at RVIA’s Committee Week, which gets underway today in Washington, D.C.
“They (shipments) reached a lowpoint in the first quarter of 2009, and can be expected to begin posting small seasonally adjusted gains in the balance of 2009 and into 2010,” Curtin stated. First-quarter shipments totaled 30,400, off 63% from the first quarter of 2008.
“The gains will be focused on conventional travel trailers during the next year or so, although all types of RVs will improve,” he said.
Further, he stated, “The recession is expected to end by the close of 2009 due to the favorable impact of the stimulus package and the revival of more normal credit conditions. Unfortunately, the recovery is expected to be abnormally slow. The economic outlook still remains quite uncertain, which has clouded prospects for the RV industry as well.”
“The pace of the recovery in RV sales,” Curtin continued, “will be slowed by the shift in priorities among consumers away from spending and toward debt repayment and the building of savings and reserve funds, including their diminished retirement accounts. Although credit will not be as free-flowing as in the past, RV buyers are excellent credit risks and can be expected to return to the market.”
By segment, Curtin offered these shipments forecasts for 2009:
- Travel trailers, 82,600.
- Fifth-wheels, 29,500.
- Folding camping trailers, 10,900.
- Truck campers, 2,000.
- Class A motorhomes, 5,400.
- Class B motorhomes, 900.
- Class C motohomes, 5,200.
Uncertainty Clouds RV Forecast
Curtin concluded with the observation that his forecast bears some uncertainty. He said, “When the economy finally reaches the bottom of its cycle, the initial phase of the recovery is typically anticipated to be as rapid as the descent into recession. That’s a natural assumption since it mirrors the typical cyclical pattern of the past.
” The current recession, however, is hardly typical as it involved a virtual freeze of credit markets and the deepest and longest decline in production and income during the past half century. The full restoration of normal credit flows will be a painstakingly slow and uneven process.
“Moreover, the impact of the new financial regulations, which are as yet largely undeveloped, will continue to add uncertainty to financial markets and lenders. While RV shipments are forecast to be 136,500 in 2009, the range about this forecast is unusually large, plus or minus 15%, with a comparable range for all various types of RVs covered in this forecast.”
The University of Michigan also prepares a monthly report on Consumer Confidence, which took a big jump in May, according to the report.
RV shipments to retailers were reported at 10,300 units in the February survey of manufacturers compiled by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), an increase of nearly 40% over last month but 63% less than this same month, one year ago.
Shipments of towables totaled 9,600 units, while motorized shipments totaled 700 units. Seasonally adjusted, February’s results represent an annualized total of more than 120,000 units.
While towable RVs improved in February, moving up 45% compared to shipments of these same products one month earlier, motorhome totals were the same. Conventional travel trailers represented 60.3% of this month’s total shipments as compared to 54.1% for all of last year.
In particular, February 2009 shipments, compared with February 2008 shipments were as follows:
- Travel trailer shipments totaled 6,200 units, down 58.1%.
- Fifth-wheel shipments totaled 2,400 units, down 64.7%.
- Folding camping trailer shipments totaled 900 units, down 55.0%.
- Truck camp shipments totaled 100 units, down 80%.
- Class A shipments totaled 300, down 83.3%.
- Class C shipments totaled 400 units, down 73.3%.
- Class B shipments were down 64.6%, with less than 100 units shipped.