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RV shipments will be down slightly in 2019, according to a new forecast prepared by longtime RV industry analyst, Richard Curtin, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center.

In the Spring 2019 issue of the RV RoadSigns newsletter, Curtin projects total RV shipments will range between 475,500 and 444,500 units this year with the most likely final total being 460,100 units. While this total would be a slight dip of 4.9% from the 2018 year-end total of 483,700 units, it would also position 2019 as the third highest year for RV shipments on record.

Curtin believes that the RV market will see a somewhat sluggish start to the year with first-quarter shipments being impacted by unusually harsh weather and the federal government shutdown. Robust RV retail sales, healthy RV inventory levels, and strong income, employment and household wealth factors will continue to exert a positive force on the RV market.

Curtin also predicted that navigating the current economic environment will require companies to focus on flexibility and innovation – in both product development and customer service – more than ever. “It is likely that new RV features and designs will account for larger shares of the market. Adjusting products to these emerging trends represents the best near- and long-term strategy for manufacturers,” he said. 

“Appealing to new population segments requires a total makeover,” added Curtin, who has authored RV RoadSigns for four decades. “That includes everything from the initial contact with customers, to a new adaptive selling environment, to innovations in shared ownership.”

These initiatives urged by Curtin are points of emphasis for RVX, the newly invented RV industry trade show that will make its debut at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, from March 12-14. Billed as “The Kickoff to Camping Season,” RVX will bring the industry together in a venue where manufacturers and suppliers can unveil the latest RV products to their dealer partners.  RVX also provides the first spring opportunity for dealers to write new model orders and ensure that lots remain full of the products today’s RV consumer is looking to purchase. 

According to Curtin, RV sales will continue to benefit from the aging Baby Boomers as well as Millennials. The number of consumers between the ages of 55 and 74 will total 79 million by 2025, 15% higher than in 2015, and the number between age 30 and 45 will total 72 million by 2025, 13% higher than in 2015.