Richard Curtin

Richard Curtin

Editor’s Note: The following is a report from Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan and a consultant for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), appearing in the Spring 2015 issue of Roadsigns.

RV shipments surged in the closing quarter of 2014. Shipments totaled 85,400 units in the fourth quarter, recording a year-to-year gain of 17.8%, and the highest fourth-quarter shipment level since 2005.

Moreover, fourth-quarter shipments were higher than the third quarter for the first time in the last half century. This unusual pattern may reflect dealer’s’ desires to avoid any inventory shortages as happened last winter as well as a more positive outlook for sales.

RV shipments are expected to total 379,400 in 2015, a gain of 6.3% above 2014. This would be the highest shipment level since 390,400 was recorded in 2006. Moreover, it will set a new record of six consecutive years of gains. The gain is expected to be mainly due to a 7.4% increase in conventional and fifth-wheel trailers, while shipments of motorhomes are anticipated to improve by 2.3%.

A stronger economy is expected to be the driving force of RV gains in 2015. Continued job growth as well as improving wage gains are expected to boost consumer incomes in 2015. Although interest rate increases are widely anticipated, the rise is expected to be negligible. Household wealth is expected to grow, but the pace of growth is anticipated to slow in 2015.

The major risk to this positive outlook involves a weaker global economy and rising geopolitical tensions that could create more volatile financial markets.