Based on an “unprecedented number” of travel trailers shipped in the first and second quarters, University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin is looking for a fairly strong finish to 2006 – with total wholesale deliveries pretty much on par with 2005 – 384,100 units vs. 384,400 in ‘05.
That, by most measures, would be a solid performance, given some of the varied economic indicators at hand. But it also belies the fact that the overall motorhome share of total RV shipments fell to its lowest level on record, with higher margin motorized products amounting to 13% of all RV shipments in the first half of 2006.
“Shipments are expected to remain relatively strong at 342,900 in 2007 (down 10.7% from 2006), which would be the fourth best year during the past quarter century,” says Curtin. “High gas prices and high interest rates as well as diminished home equity withdrawals are expected to lessen sales prospects. Consumers’ ability to buy will be diminished by a less favorable job outlook and smaller gains in their inflation-adjusted incomes.
“Shipments of conventional travel trailers are expected to post the largest declines in 2007,” Curtin continued, “while shipments of motorhomes will remain largely unchanged, the opposite of trends in 2006. This reflects in part the normal pattern and in part the end of the extraordinary surge in demand for travel trailers due to Gulf Coast storms. The extent of the overall decline in RV shipments is rather modest, and renewed strength is expected in the second half of 2007.