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Retail sales of travel trailers, fifth-wheels and park models declined modestly during July, at least when compared with the motorhome sector of the RV industry, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.

The number of travel trailers sold by dealers during July declined 5.2% to 11,533 units, compared with 12,172 units sold during July 2000.

Meanwhile, fifth-wheel sales slipped in July 4.3% to 5,272 units, compared with 5,510 units retailed a year earlier.

Additionally, 530 parks models were sold in July, down 4.5% from the 555 units retailed a year earlier.

The only towable RV product suffering a sharp decline in July was folding campers, which fell 16.5% to 5,235 units retailed.

The popularity of expandable trailers, which have many the characteristics of folding campers but which are included in the travel trailer category, is viewed as an explanation for the sharp decline in folding camper sales, which began before the economy started to cool-off.

During the first seven months of this year, travel trailer sales were down 6.8% to 65,702 units, because of a weak first quarter.

Fifth-wheel sales were down 6.1% during the first seven months of this year, to 32,999 units, also because of a weak first quarter.

Folding camper retail sales were down 15.7% after the first seven months of this year, to 27,556 units.

Park models also were down 17.1% during the first seven months of this year, to 3,047 units, due to a weak first half of this year.