The RV wholesale shipments totals for June, the most current data available, where higher than most observers anticipated. But does that mean June’s exceptionally high numbers will become August or September’s excess dealer inventories?
The answer is: Probably not.
The reason is extraordinarily low interest rates and relatively low fuel prices continue to make RV purchases attractive, despite a slumping stock market and otherwise flagging consumer confidence.
“Dealers are saying they are seeing absolutely no sign of weakness because of stock market volatility or (lower levels of) consumer confidence,” said Scott Stember, investment analyst with Sidoti & Co., who was interviewed by Bloomberg News.
Gary Groom, president/CEO of Elkhart, Ind.-based Class A motorhome manufacturer Damon Corp., agreed low interest rates and low fuel prices are keeping RV sales at healthy levels.
“Consumers are continuing to spend despite the lull in the economy’s growth,” Groom told the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth.
“Consumers that have not been RV owners are testing the RV lifestyle through rentals, and that’s a good sign for retailers,” Groom added. “A lot of people who try rentals do end up becoming RV owners.”
A recent feature article in the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News described how affordable a family vacation can be in a rental RV. The article quoted members of a family, including four adults and seven children, who vacationed together in a rental RV. Their average cost for the vacation was $228 a day.
A review of wholesale shipments data for the last three years reveals how strong the RV market was in June.
The healthiest segment was larger towable RVs. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), there were 12,200 conventional and hybrid travel trailers shipped from manufacturers to dealers last June, a total that even exceeded the 11,100 units shipped during June 1999, the industry’s most recent peak.
The 5,500 fifth-wheels shipped last June also exceeded the 5,300 units delivered during June 1999.
The 3,700 Class A motorhomes delivered to dealers last June also exceeded the number shipped during June 2001 and June 2000, although last June’s figure trailed the 4,000 Class A units shipped during June 1999, according to the RVIA.