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RV shipments, spurred in part by the sale of travel trailers from dealers lots to be used as temporary housing in the wake of a trio of hurricanes, are expected to reach a quarter century peak this year, according to the most recent forecast by University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin.
In his quarterly “RoadSigns” forecast prepared for the membership of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Curtin predicts RV shipments for 2005 will reach 376,700 – an increase of 1.8% over last year.
In October, Curtin estimated that total shipments would decline 2.9% compared to 2004 but the series of hurricanes changed the industry’s fortunes substantially.
“Conventional travel trailers are expected to set a new annual shipment record for the fourth consecutive year in 2005, as total shipments of travel trailers have more than doubled during the last eight years,” Curtin wrote. “Overall, conventional travel trailers will account for nearly one of every two RVs shipped in 2005.”
In his initial assessment for 2006, Curtin expects towable and motorized shipments to be 355,900 units – a decline of 5.5% from 2005. That, nonetheless, would represent the third best year for total shipments in the last 25 years.
“The expected decline … falls heavily on folding camping trailers and truck campers, generally, the least expensive units purchased by those most sensitive to rising interest rates and smaller gains in real income,” Curtin wrote.
Lingering concerns about fuel prices and a slowdown in the growth rate of household wealth is expected to affect motorhomes in 2006 “by slightly more than the declines expected for conventional and fifth-wheel trailers,” he stated.
Curtin’s final 2005 estimate was adjusted to reflect 5,000 trailers that were sold in September directly to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Those units are not considered RVs because they are not equipped with holding tanks.
No adjustment, Curtin said, was made for RVs sold to FEMA from dealers’ inventories.