It’s travel season, and sales at Safford RV are almost back to pre-recession levels.

Fredericksburg.com reported that staff at the Thornburg, Va., dealership have been selling two to three travel trailers and motor homes a day. Over a recent weekend, they had contracts on 17.

“It’s buyer confidence,” said sales manager Mike Richards. “This is a luxury item. People don’t need an RV. If our sales are doing well, the economy in general is doing well.”

Experts have long looked at the sales of travel trailers and motor homes as an economic bellwether, according to Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association in Fairfax.

Sales reached their most recent peak in 2006, when manufacturers shipped 390,000 RVs to dealers, he said. As the economy slid into recession, shipments bottomed out to 165,000 in 2009. This year they’re estimated to reach 380,000, and will top 2009’s level with a projected 394,000 shipments in 2016.

“It’s been a good success story for the RV industry coming out of the recession,” Ingrassia said.

Richards said that he first noticed an uptick in sales in 2012, and that there have been increases at Safford every year since then.

“I wouldn’t say that they’re exactly where they were, but they’re close to it,” he said.

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