Atlanta area RV dealers reported strong retail sales through the end of April, suggesting that the shower rate of growth of shipments from RV manufacturers to dealers during March was the result of manufacturers struggling to ramp-up production, not because of weakening retail sales.
Spokesmen for two Atlanta area dealerships told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that their sales were up at least 20% during the first four months of this year.
Tim Elzey, general manager to Norman Campers in Marietta, Ga., said sales at his dealership were up 22% and Don Larsen, general manager at John Bleakley Motor Homes in Douglasville, Ga., said sales at his dealership were up “around 20%,” the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported today (May 3) that shipments from manufacturers to dealers of conventional & hybrid travel trailers, fifth-wheels, folding campers and truck campers totaled 21,700 units this past March, the same number that was shipped during March 2001, when the industry was in a downturn.
After the first quarter of this year, shipments of the four types of towable RVs was up 6.4% to 56,700 units.
A comparison of the RVIA wholesale market data and the retail sales increases reported by the Atlanta dealers suggests that manufacturers of towables are struggling to obtain enough materials, components and, in some cases, hire enough workers to build the number of units that would satisfy the current level of retail demand.
Nationwide retail sales data for January and February, the most current available, also shows that retail sales of towables and motorhomes were strong at least during the first two months of this year.
The only RV product type to see a surge in wholesale shipments in March was Class A motorhomes. Class A motorhome shipments increased almost 9% in March to 3,800 units and shipments of Class A’s were up almost 12% during the first quarter to 9,500 units.
And that’s good news for potential Class A motorhome buyers because dealer inventories of Class A’s were extraordinarily tight after the first two months of this year. According to RVIA and Statistical Surveys data, the number of Class A’s shipped to dealers during the first two months of this year exceeded the number of Class A’s sold by dealers by only 70 units.