Last year ended on a high note as retail sales of travel trailers and fifth-wheels soared more than 20% in December, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
The dramatic rise in sales of the larger towables gives more weight to the argument that the RV industry has started on the upward trend of its cycle.
Specifically, both travel trailer and fifth-wheel sales increased 23.3% last December, when compared with December 2000, according to Statistical Surveys.
There were 4,434 travel trailers sold last December in the 48 states where Statistical Surveys was able to gather data, compared with 3,552 travel trailers sold in the same states a year earlier.
Statistical Surveys does not gather RV retail sales data in Hawaii and it was unable to get sales results from New Hampshire for December.
Meanwhile, there were 3,254 fifth-wheels retailed in the 48 states in December, compared with 2,639 units sold in the same states a year earlier, according to Statistical Surveys.
However, folding camper sales continued on the decline in December, Statistical Surveys reports. There were 690 folding campers sold last December, a 2.5% decline from the 708 units sold a year earlier.
The decline in folding camper sales the last few years is attributable to the growing popularity of so-called expandable or hybrid units, which are classified as travel trailers.
But park model sales increased in December, climbing 4.6% to 321 units sold retail in the 48 states.
However, the December increases did not wipe-out the lower retail sales volumes experienced earlier in 2001, according to Statistical Surveys.
For example, travel trailer sales during the full year 2001 declined 4.4% to 103,850 units and fifth-wheels sales were down 2.8% to 54,612 units.
Statistical Surveys was unable to gather sales figures from New Hampshire for September through December. Otherwise, it gathered retail sales data from all other states except Hawaii.
Meanwhile, folding camper sales fell 17% during the full year 2001 to 38,934 units and park model sales were down 14.8% to 5,201 units.