2014 could be the best year for the RV industry since 2007.
At least that was the opinion of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) following their recent announcement that May RV wholesale shipments to retailers continued to climb with year-to-date shipments totaling 144,015 units, a 13.0 percent gain over the first five months of last year.
These numbers built on the momentum from previous months. It was the best April for RV shipments in seven years.
The 32,539 units shipped during the month of May were 11.9 percent higher than the 29,079 total from last May. These totals were the best May numbers in eight years and the best overall monthly total since March 2007.
RVIA shipment data reflects the strong appeal of RVs across the range of product types with double-digit increases in conventional travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, Class A motorhomes, Class B motorhomes, and Class C motorhomes.
While towable RVs provided the largest unit gains, motorhomes rose by a larger percentage increase for the month.
Towable RV shipments reached 128,037 through May, an increase of 11.1 percent over the 115,204 shipped in the same time period last year. Motorhome shipments are up by 30.4 percent with 15,978 units shipped through May 2013 versus 12,250 through May 2012.
The May shipments also marked the 29th consecutive month that totals were up compared with the same month the year previous.
“They (shipments) are indeed strong,” said James Ashurst, vice president of communications and marketing for the RVIA.
“Right now the numbers are on pace to be at a point we haven’t seen since the recession.”
Ashurst said annual shipments might be able to surpass 2007.
In 2007, there was a total of 353,400 shipments. That year ended a run of six straight years with more than 300,000 shipments.
In 2013, shipments reached 321,127 units for a gain of 12.4 percent over the previous year, the first time 300,000 had been reached since 2007. This year’s numbers are already on pace to easily pass 2013 numbers.
“These numbers are a testament to the lure of RVing,” Ashurst said.
“The manufacturers continue to make great products that the consumer is drawn to. The consumer is really embracing the RV lifestyle.”
Beyond the attractiveness of the RV lifestyle, a perceived improvement in the economy plays a major role in the resurgence of the RV industry.
“There certainly has been pent-up demand,” Ashurst added.
“You’ve got families looking around the dinner table right now saying the family is not getting any younger. If we’re going to be an RV family, we need to do this now.”
“The RV industry’s promising future is based on gains in jobs, incomes, and household wealth,” said RV industry analyst Dr. Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, during his presentation to RVIA members at the association’s annual Committee Week in early June.
“Rising home values will continue to strengthen home equity, and along with higher stock prices, will bolster the willingness and ability of new RV buyers.”
The revival of the RV industry following the Great Recession is due to the creation of new products that are valued by consumers, Curtin told the audience.
“Innovative products result from a company’s culture that encourages active participation of all employees in the design, production, and marketing of RVs,” Curtin said.
Great concepts do not guarantee great products, Curtin cautioned.
“Great products are made by how the countless details are executed to meet the diverse needs of consumers,” he said.
Grab the keys and let’s go RVing.
Arguably the best slogan ever written to describe the RV lifestyle comes to mind: Wherever you go, you’re always at home. We have much to be thankful for, including our great RV lifestyle…