RV, Marine Industries Primed for Growth in 2019 (1/31/2019)

Story by RVBusiness

Economic growth might be slowing a bit in 2019, but it won’t be enough to have too much of an adverse impact on the RV and recreational watercraft industries.

As reported by the South Bend Tribune, though the RV industry is predicting that shipments could slip for the second consecutive year in 2019, the predicted total — 453,200 units — would still be the third highest of all time.

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) reported that its string of eight consecutive years of growth came to an end in 2018 when shipments slipped 4.1% to 483,672 units from the record-breaking 504,672 units shipped in 2017.

Meanwhile, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reported its seventh consecutive year of growth in 2018 and predicted sales could go up another 3% to 4% in the coming year, easily surpassing 280,000 units.

The Elkhart area has a sizable number of pontoon boat manufacturers so the stability of both boating and RVs is important to the region because of the tens of thousands of jobs that are dependent on both industries.

Though the RV Industry Association reported that RV shipments dropped for the fifth consecutive month in December to 28,363 units from 36,227 in December 2017, some argue that the slowdown was caused by overly aggressive orders at the beginning of 2018.

Sales of both boats and RVs were up for the first 11 months of 2018, according to Statistical Surveys, which tracks sales for both industries. “RV sales were up 3.6% for the first 11 months, and boats were up 4.01%,” said Scott Stropkai, president of the Grand Rapids-based business.

But Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University, pointed out that over exuberance in ordering is still an indication that the economy slowed in the second half of the year, pointing out that it doesn’t make sense that dealers would needlessly pay for new RVs sitting on their lots.

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