Diesel fuel prices are at an all-time record high and gasoline prices are near a record high, but most people don’t expect it to last long, according to one industry analyst.
Consumers “do not think gas prices will remain high for very long,” said to Dr. Richard Curtin director of the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and chief economic consultant to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Diesel fuel prices remained at an all-time high today, according to www.fuelgaugereport.com, a website sponsored by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The national average price for diesel fuel now is $1.764 per gallon, according to the AAA website. The national average price for regular unleaded now is $1.661 per gallon, which is getting close to the all-time record high of $1.718 per gallon set on May 15, 2001.
Although consumers are concerned about high fuel prices, that was not a big factor in Curtin’s decision to lower his forecast because “more importantly, consumers do not expect any disruptions in the availability of gas or diesel fuel,” he wrote in an e-mail to RVBUSINESS.COM.
Instead, new forecasts calling for slower rates of general economic growth this year prompted Curtin to slightly lower his forecast for RV shipments.
“The primary economic factors are a lower GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate in the first half of 2003 and a slightly slower rebound in the second half (of this year) than originally expected,” Curtin wrote in his e-mail. “This means somewhat slower growth in income and employment.”
Meanwhile, Curtin recently lowered his forecast for RV shipments for this year. Now he is calling for a 2% increase in total shipments to 316,900 units.
Curtin’s current forecast includes a 3% increase in towables shipments to 258,200 units and a 3% decline in motorhome shipments to 58,700 units.
Earlier, Curtin estimated that total RV shipments would increase 5% this year.
Most economists are forecasting 2.2% GDP growth during the first quarter. Earlier, most economists forecasted 2.6% growth during the three-month period that will end on March 31.
Economists still are forecasting a stronger economy during the second half of this year. On average, they believe GDP will grow at a 3.6% rate in the fourth quarter, although, earlier, they forecasted 4.2% GDP growth in the fourth quarter.