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Although a number of RV companies have experienced sluggish sales and related layoffs this summer, the picture may not be quite as negative as one might think. That’s the view of Tom Walworth, general manager of Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI), Grand Rapids, Mich., a national repository for retail sales registrations.

Through the first five months of the year, based on the latest retail numbers of available, SSI is reporting retail sales of RV trailers up 4.8% and motorhomes down 1.7% compared to 1999 — the best retail sales year in 20 years. And Walworth thinks this strong retail trend is continuing well beyond the May reporting numbers.

“I could say that it’s softening up at retail,” Walworth told RVB. “But still, the retail numbers hold true to the fact that we’re within 5% of where we were last year for five months, plus or minus. And, remember, last year was the best market that we’ve had in the last 20 years.

“I know that wholesale is down; dealers have to look at the bigger picture, and that the problems that we experienced in May or June due to interest rates and fuel prices are short-term.

“The long-term picture is you’ve still got a lot of retirees with probably the highest disposable income in history coming into our market. And I think that the dealers who have a lot of product on their lot and can take care of consumer needs are the ones who are going to be successful.”