The U.S. economy grew at an unexpectedly robust rate during the first quarter but consumer sentiment weakened in April.
The Commerce Department reported today (April 26) that the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), surged ahead at a 5.8% rate of growth during the first three months of this year, the fastest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 1999.
The unexpectedly strong first quarter growth rate follows the sluggish 1.7% rate of growth during the fourth quarter of 2001.
Meanwhile, the University of Michigan Survey Research Center also reported today that its consumer sentiment index declined to 93.0 in April, from 95.7 in March, suggesting that the economy will not continue growing as rapidly as it did in the first quarter.
The consumer sentiment index is widely followed because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the GDP.
The RV industry data gathered for January and February certainly supports the idea the that the economy grew rapidly during the first quarter. Shipments of RVs from manufacturers to dealers increased sharply both months, when compared with the listless levels of January and February of 2001.
And especially in the motorhome sector, retail sales almost matched wholesale deliveries during the first two months of this year, suggesting that the retail market was so strong, motorhome dealers had difficulty replenishing their inventories during those months.
The strong retail sales figures for January and February gave weight to the argument that RV dealers still had a ways to go, during those months, to finish re-stocking their once nearly depleted inventories.