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Richard Curtin

Richard Curtin

RV shipments are expected to total 405,300 units in 2016, an 8.3% gain over 2015 that would eclipse the modern 2006 peak as the best year since 1977, according to the latest forecast of RV deliveries to retailers prepared for members of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) by Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Research Center.

The forecast, issued in the fall edition of the trade association’s quarterly “Roadsigns” publication, is based in part on robust increases in RV shipments posted in the first half of the year. Shipments totaled 118,091 in the the year’s second quarter, an increase of 11.9% over the year earlier for the highest quarterly total in the past quarter century.

Those record RV shipments were again paced by travel trailers, which rose 13.9% from a year ago and accounted for 65% of all 2Q shipments. Conventional travel trailer shipments were higher in the past half century in only one quarter of 1972, RVIA reports. Quarterly motorhome shipments posted year-over-year gains of 15.5% with Class B’s and C’s each rising by 23% for their best respective performances in a decade.

“The favorable RV outlook assumes continued gains in jobs and wages as well as low and relatively stable inflation, interest rates and energy prices,” Curtin stated. “Personal income growth will raise sales, especially among Millennial buyers. Slower growth in top-end units reflects sluggish expected gains in home values and stock prices as well as uncertainty about future economic policies. The expansion will be driven by buyers who choose smaller and less expensive units, and will become the repeat buyers of larger units in the future.”