The latest round of impressive wholesale shipment report numbers last week from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), indicating that year to date 2004 RV shipments have increased by nearly 20 percent, have underscored the ongoing growth and apparent durability of the RV marketplace and, at the same time, captured the attention of the nation’s business press.
A prime example was a column on the Business cover of the Sunday (Aug. 29) South Bend Tribune in which Ed Semmler, business editor for the northwest Indiana paper, extolled the virtues of the industry’s product breadth, as well as the prospects for continued growth. The opinion piece was accompanied by a feature story on the growth in the high-end motorhome marketplace.
In Semmler’s column, Mac Bryan, vice president of administration for the RVIA, said he didn’t believe the growth of the industry was a bubble ready to burst.
Semmler noted that the RVIA, which has shifted its estimates upward a couple of times this year, was predicting that 361,900 units would be shipped to dealers in 2004, more than a 12% increase over 2003 and the highest number in 25 years.
The column went on to state: “Those who are retired or are approaching retirement are still the industry’s bread and butter, but younger people with children also are showing more interest in RVs than ever before. As a result, the industry believes demographics are lined up to generate strong interest in the RV lifestyle for 10 to 15 years.”
With regard to the high-end motorhome market, the Tribune story noted: “Upscale features are becoming commonplace on Type A motor homes, many of which cost $200,000 and beyond, well beyond the price of an average home in America. And demand for travel trailers and fifth-wheels also was red hot. Not only are manufacturers producing RVs at break-neck speed, they’re producing more expensive models than ever before.”
Semmler said that situation also was good news for suppliers, particularly companies manufacturing items like “marble, tile, fine wooden cabinets, leather furniture, upscale appliances and sophisticated electronics.”