The economic consultant to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) believes RV shipments to dealers will decline “close to 17%” this year because of the slowing economy.

Most RV industry insiders had been assuming the dealer demand for motorhomes and towable RVs would pick-up during the second half of this year. But John DeWolf, the RVIA’s economist, does not believe an improvement will occur until the second half of 2002.

During 2000, there were 300,000 motorhomes and towable RVs shipped from manufacturers to dealers. DeWolf believes a little more than 250,000 units will be shipped this year.

DeWolf believes towable RV shipments will decline about 16% this year to a little more than 200,000 units and motorhome deliveries will decline around 19% to 49,100 units.

Shipments will be lower because the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), grew at a 5% rate in 2000, but it will grow at a rate just below 3% this year, said DeWolf, who developed his forecast prior to the Federal Reserve’s decision on Tuesday (March 20) to lower interest rates for the third time this year.

The two interest rate cuts enacted by the Fed during January made DeWolf believe “the Federal Reserve has pretty well eliminated any danger of the slowdown turning into a recession (usually defined as at least two quarters of negative growth in the GDP).”

The nation’s economy will hit its cyclical bottom during the second quarter of this year, DeWolf added.