The turnout for last weekend’s Atlantic City RV & Camping Show was so strong that it reminded the show director of the years during the 1970s, when more than 400,000 RV units were sold each year, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
“Over the last several years this business has just taken off,” said show director Jim McLaughlin. “It’s been like it was in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, before the energy crisis (of the mid-’70s) cut into business. But now it’s back again and even better.”
Last year, a total of 311,000 RVs were shipped from manufacturers to dealers, a total that represents a 21% increase over 2001, but still well below years such as 1977, when more than 400,000 were delivered wholesale, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) figures.
During January, the most current data available, total RV shipments were up another 18.3%, including a 21.9% increase in towable RV deliveries and a 4.5% increase in motorhome shipments, according to the RVIA.
However, smaller shipment increases, and possibly declines, can be expected in the February figures because several RV manufacturers have cut their production schedules because of concerns about the impact on the retail market of a war in Iraq and high fuel prices.
In addition to Atlantic City, attendance has been strong at many other RV retail shows so far this year, although there are reports that buying activity has not been as strong as show attendance. This has led many in the industry to believe the RV retail market could rebound sharply once the international situation is clarified.