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Editor’s Note: The Wall Street investment firm of Robert W. Baird & Co. had these observations on the September wholesale RV shipment data released Monday by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA):

baird_new_logoTowable shipments increase again in September. Total shipments increased 15%, driven by a 21% increase in towable shipments. Motorhomes shipments fell 31% in September, but declines continue to moderate. The towable data are directionally consistent with our expectations for Thor – as we forecast Thor’s shipments to increase 30% in FQ1 ending October. We expect the trend to continue as comps ease and the destocking trend runs its course.

Summary

  • Total RV wholesale shipments up 15%. Shipments increased in September on strong towable shipments and easy comps.
  • Motorhome shipments fell 31%. Class A shipments fell 40% while Class C shipments dropped 17%.
  • Towable shipments grew 21%. Travel trailer shipments increased 31% while fifth wheel shipments were down 3%.
  • Dealer inventory. Shipments have remained below retail sales as dealers reduce inventory. We believe this trend has run its course in towables as dealers begin to restock the lower-priced, faster-turning units. Additionally, Thor recently reported an increase in its backlog, suggesting dealers are beginning to reorder at a more normal rate. Dealers continue to destock in motorhomes, but this too is an unsustainable trend long term.
  • We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual (SAAR) rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments increased to 15.1K units in September, up from 13.4K units in August. The SAAR of towable shipments increased again to 183.6K units in September from 174.4K units in August.
  • (Note: The firm does not include Class B motorhomes, folding camping trailers and truck campers in its SAAR. When referring to RVs, it generally means Class A, Class C, fifth-wheels and travel trailers. These refined classifications provide better comparisons to the companies it covers.)