Investment firm Avondale Partners LLC recently surveyed 85 recreational vehicle dealers to assess sentiment among retailers and industry conditions during the fourth quarter of 2008.
Results from the survey showed:
• Sales Down: Avondale reported that motorized and towable sales were down from third-quarter survey results.
• Inventories: Dealers attitudes towards inventories are mixed, with 44.4% indicating intentions to lower vs. 43.2% intending to leave inventories unchanged. This is an improvement from the third quarter as 68.9% of respondents at that time indicated plans to lower inventory levels further.
• Traffic trends slow: Generally, dealers feel that traffic trends remain “very slow,” according to Avondale. Additionally, an extremely aggressive discounting environment and difficult financing are making the selling environment that much more difficult.
• Florida RV SuperShow: The event seemed well attended and dealers were “relatively surprised” by the turnout.
• Avondale opinion: “Breaking the $4 per gallon barrier provided a respite for certain RV dealers in the early fall, but the overall crushing realities of very challenging financing and dismal consumer confidence weighs on RV sales trends. While inventories have improved as the year has progressed, dealers are looking further to reduce inventories. We expect additional manufacturer closures as the RV industry manages through the tough winter months and cash dries up. Essentially two years into the current severe RV downturn, we believe that the RV industry slump will eclipse that of the early ’90’s 28-month downturn.”