The University of Michigan’s Dr. Richard Curtin now believes total RV shipments, including both towables and motorhomes, will increase 0.7% this year and 2.3% in 2004.
Curtin, economic consultant to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), had earlier forecasted 1% or 2% shipments declines for this year, when compared with 2002.
However, in the latest edition of roadsigns, an RVIA publication, Curtin said a better than anticipated third quarter led him to raise his forecast. He now believes 313,100 towables and motorhomes will be shipped from factories to dealers during all of 2003, compared with 311,000 units delivered in 2002.
For 2004, Curtin now estimates 320,200 units will be shipped, which would mean, if accurate, that the industry will have recovered almost to its most recent peak of 321,100 units shipped during 1999.
The all-time record shipments year for the RV industry was 389,000 units in 1978.
During the third quarter, Curtin said the RV industry benefited from the general economy’s 7% growth rate, the most rapid in two decades. “The third quarter strength in RV shipments reflects the enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle, low interest rates, low inflation, rising home values and added discretionary income due to recent tax cuts,” Curtin wrote in roadsigns.
“Although interest rates will gradually increase during 2004, interest rates will nonetheless remain relatively low,” Curtin continued. “Job and income gains are expected to more than offset the drag from rising interest rates on RV sales.
“Travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes are expected to benefit the most from the gains in overall economic conditions,” Curtin reported.
After the first 10 months of this year, total shipments were up 1.9% to 276,100 towables and motorhomes, compared with 270,900 units delivered during the first 10 months of 2002, according to the RVIA.