Dr. Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan has adjusted his forecast for RV shipment deliveries and now says they will decline by only 1% this year, according to the latest edition of RV Roadsigns, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) quarterly publication.
Curtin estimated RV shipments would total 307,700 units this year, which would represent a 1.1% decline from the 311,000 units shipped in 2002.
Earlier, Curtin had forecast shipments would decline 2.1% this year to 304,500 units.
For Curtin’s latest forecast to be accurate, the wholesale market would need to cool off during the final five months of this year. That is because shipments increased 2.8% during the first seven months of this year to 191,800 units, according to the RVIA.
Motorhome shipments were down 0.3% for the first seven months of this year while towable RV shipments were up 3.6% in the same period, the RVIA reported.
For 2004, Curtin estimated, shipments would total 313,000 units, which would be 0.6% above the 2002 total of 311,000 and 1.7% above his forecasted total of 307,700 units.
Prior to 2002, the most recent high-water market for RV manufacturers occurred in 1999, when 321,200 units were shipped, according to the RVIA.
Before 1999, the peak shipments year was 1978, when 389,900 units. almost all towables, were delivered from factories to dealerships, the RVIA reported.
Going into 2004, Curtin predicted, “RV shipments will benefit from a stronger economy, as growth in consumer incomes improve sales prospects. Interest rates will gradually increase in response to the growing economic strength, but rates will nonetheless remain relatively low in 2004. The income gains are expected to more than offset the drag from rising interest rates on RV sales.”
The University of Michigan expert on consumer sentiment also said “travel trailers will benefit from the growing appeal of hybrids as well as relatively low interest rates.” However, Curtin also noted that “sub-par job growth will have the greatest (negative) impact on truck campers and folding camping trailers, while the end of the refinancing boom would have its greatest impact on motorhomes sales.
“On the positive side,” Curtin added, “lower taxes on incomes, dividends and capital gains as well as a revival in stock prices will help strengthen demand for all RVs, especially motorhomes.”