Forecast: RV Shipments to Grow 11.7% in ’13

September 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The heavy black line shows RV shipments have remained above 2012 levels (shaded area) each month this year and should remain on the same course through the rest of the year, the RVIA’s forecaster stated this week.

Wholesale RV shipments are expected to reach 319,300 units by the end of 2013, a gain of 11.7% above the 2012 total of 285,800, according to a new projection by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin in the Fall 2013 issue of RV Roadsigns.

According to an article in the latest issue of RVIA Today, shipments will continue to edge higher in 2014 to 334,300 units, a 4.7% rise over the projected 2013 year-end total.

The promising outlook for the next two years comes on the heels of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) July 2013 RV Market Reports that shows the industry has been on a torrid pace through the first seven months of this year. Year-to-date shipments have reached 201,130 units, a 13.1% gain over the 177,845 units shipped through the same time period in 2012.

Motorhome shipments have shown the largest percentage gain, rising 35% to 22,322 units through July 2013 compared to 16,531 units though July 2012. Class C motorhomes have increased 42.5% to 10,399 units; Class A motorhomes grew by 33.3% to 10,647 units; and Class B motorhomes have edged up by 2.6% to 1,276 units.

Towable RV shipments are up 13.1% to 201,130 units through July. Conventional travel trailers are up 13% to 124,799 units; fifth-wheel travel trailers have risen by 8% to 3,964 units; and truck campers jumped 5.1% to 2,196 units. Folding camping trailers are off slightly, down 2.8%, to 7,849 units.

“The strong performance of the RV market is due to restored consumer confidence, rising home and stock values, the improved availability of credit, and continued, although slow, gains in job and income prospects,” said Curtin. “Consumer anticipate steady but moderate economic growth in the year ahead accompanied by rising interest rates. Borrowing in advance of those expected increases in rates may accelerate the pace of demand for RVs.”

For more information on RV market statistics and research, visit the “Market Data and Trends” section of


Curtin: Consumer Sentiment Nears 6-Yr. High

June 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin

Consumer sentiment improved in late June, ending the month close to a near six-year high set in May, as optimism among higher-income families rose to its strongest level in six years, a survey released on Friday (June 28) showed.

Reuter’s reported that the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment was 84.1 points, just slightly below a near six-year high of 84.5 in May. The late-June figure was higher than the preliminary reading of 82.7. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the final June reading of 82.8.

“Consumers believe the (economic) recovery has achieved an upward momentum that will not be easily reversed,” survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement. Curtin also provides wholesale shipment forecasting for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

He added the recent drop in stock prices and the jump in mortgage rates have not caused a deterioration in consumers’ view on the economy.

“To be sure, few high or low income consumers expect the economy to post robust gains or think the unemployment rate will drastically shrink during the year ahead,” Curtin said.

Consumer sentiment is considered by some economists as a predictor on consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy.

The latest Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan data was consistent with the June consumer confidence readings from the Conference Board released earlier this week. The research group’s U.S. consumer confidence index rose to 81.4 this month, the highest since January 2008.

Household expenditures, however, have remained sluggish despite improving optimism. Consumer spending grew at an annualized 2.6% in first quarter, faster than the 1.8% pace in the last three months of 2012 but slower than an earlier government estimate of 3.4%.

The barometer of current economic conditions ended at 93.8 in June, down from 98.0 in May. This was above an early June reading of 92.1 and economists’ forecast of 92.8.

The survey’s gauge of consumer expectations ended June at its highest level since October at 77.8, up from 75.8 in May. The latest reading was stronger than the preliminary June figure of 76.7. Economists had projected a late-June figure of 77.0.



Forecast: RV Shipments to Climb 8.4% in 2013

June 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin, forecaster for the RVIA

The recreation vehicle (RV) industry’s shipments are predicted to total 309,800 units in 2013, 8.4% above the 2012 total of 285,749.

According to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin, released at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Joint Committee Luncheon today (June 3), RV shipments are expected to rise for a fifth straight year in 2014 with wholesale production expected to reach 321,800 units, a gain of 3.9% over the projected 2013 total.

The estimated total for 2013 would be an 87% increase from the industry’s recession low in 2009. Fueled by strong consumer response to the versatility, affordability and innovative designs of new models, RV shipments through the first four months of 2013 shot up 13.3% compared to the same period in 2012. The industry has seen double digit gains in conventional travel trailers, Class A motorhomes and Class C motorhomes.

“The favorable RV outlook is based on modest gains in jobs, incomes and household wealth,” said Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, during his presentation to RVIA members at the association’s annual Committee Week. “Consumer budgets have changed, but they still hold steadfast preferences for the RV lifestyle.”

Consumers have adopted a more realistic economic outlook, Curtin told the Committee Week audience. Manufacturers have responded by introducing an array of new products that will provide the same cherished RV experiences while respecting their new budget limitations.

“The RV industry will approach its next peak as the market demand for RVs continues to improve, particularly among Baby Boomers and younger buyers due to the ongoing efforts of the Go RVing campaign and the new product offerings from manufacturers,” Curtin said. “Given the modest gains expected in the financial situation of likely RV buyers, this next market peak is likely to be approached gradually.”

The RV market is expected to be bolstered over the next two years with rising home values and higher stock prices boosting the willingness and ability of new RV buyers.

“The strong appeal of the RV lifestyle underscores the iconic status of the RV in the minds of American consumers,” Curtin said. “This reflects deeply held family values, the enduring appeal of the natural environment, and people’s desire to instill in the next generation their cherished traditions.”


Latest Briefs for RV Parks and Campgrounds

May 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


Richard Curtin, forecaster for the RVIA


From RVIA Today Express:

Richard Curtin, director of the Consumer Research Center at the University of Michigan, will provide the initial outlook for RV wholesale shipments in 2014 during remarks at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Committee Week at the Joint Committee Luncheon, taking place from 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3.

His presentation will also include the latest projections for year-end 2013 totals and an examination of the general economic climate.

Curtin authors RVIA’s RV Roadsigns, the association’s quarterly forecasting newsletter and has directed RVIA’s RV consumer demographic research since 1980.

RVIA’s Committee Week 2013 will take place from June 2 – 6 at the Mayflower Renaissance Washington in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the five-day event, standing committees, the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors will meet to set the association’s plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The Go RVing Coalition will also meet on Monday, June 3. The event concludes with the Board of Directors meeting on June 6 where committee recommendations are reviewed.

For more information about Committee Week, contact Doreen Cashion in the Meetings and Shows Department at (703) 620-6003 (ext. 324)


From the Maryville Daily Forum:

A gift from a local nursery operation is making things a little greener this spring at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.

Mozingo Park Manager Grant Evans and his crew have spent the past few days planting about 40 oaks and sugar maples donated to the 3,000-acre recreation area by Don Hollingsworth, who operates Hollingsworth Peonies southeast of Maryville.

Evans said Hollingsworth delivered the saplings after digging them up to make room for additional horticultural projects at the commercial flower farm.

It was a welcome gift, he said, since increasing the tree count at the city-owned lake is a stated goal but one that, at least for now, isn’t supported by a lot of funding.


From the Winnipeg Sun:

Roughing it in the great outdoors now comes with access to wireless networks.

As the camping season gets underway, the province announced three Wi-Fi hotspots had been installed at Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park, with nine new hotspots coming online in the next two weeks at Birds Hill and Falcon Beach. Campers will receive passwords and coverage maps when they check in at campground offices, provincial officials said.

That isn’t the only improvements the province has made to campgrounds this year. Washrooms and showers have been upgraded at Birds Hill, Hnausa, Rainbow Beach, and Manipogo provincial parks, while six new yurts have been built at Childs Lake Provincial Park.


From Fox 32, Denver:

Colorado’s newest state park, Straunton State Park, will open to the public this weekend.

The park is of U.S. 285 near Evergreen. It’s a 1,720-acre stretch of rocky outcroppings, grassy valleys and historic cabins.

The land was previously owned by physician Frances Staunton, who gave the land to the state decades ago.

“Our grand opening is the culmination of years of planning and development by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in partnership with many organizations and individuals,” Staunton State Park manager Jennifer Anderson said in a news release.

“This park is her legacy,” Anderson said. “As her beneficiaries, we have the opportunity to enjoy and care for the landscape she treasured.”

The park opening includes several activities for children and families including fishing demons and a live raptor display.


From the Minot Daily News:

Not even late ice or low water could keep North Dakota’s state parks from their official opening day this week. The parks are operational on a limited basis all year round, but summer hook-ups and facilities aren’t brought on line until the weather permits. This year it almost didn’t.

“Late ice started to make things a little antsy,” said Gordon Weixel, state parks spokesman. “Then it got real warm out. Last Thursday Lake Metigoshe was still covered in ice.”

The ice left Lake Metigoshe Tuesday (May 14), just in time for the official summer opening of Lake Metigoshe State Park. A similar situation existed at Graham’s Island State Park at Devils Lake. Ice there disappeared just in time to install boat docks on Wednesday.

“There was a little bit of complaining, but everybody’s pretty happy right now,” said Weixel.

Click here to read the entire story.


From WTVR-TV, Richmond:

Edwin Barry Hughes, a camper at  Bush Park Camp Resort in Middlesex County, died following a dance at the campground Saturday night (May 11).

Sheriff David Bushey told CBS 6 News that Hughes got into a fight with a security guard after the dance. Sheriff Bushey said when his officers got to the scene they found a breathing, but unresponsive Hughes on the ground next to a guard shack. He was put in an ambulance to be taken to the Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester, but died on the way there.

“This is still an ongoing investigation and our guys are still running down leads, interviewing people in and out of the area,” Major Mickey Sampson explained.

The resort’s manager alleged Hughes had been drinking and when he left the campground driving a golf cart with no headlights on, a security guard stopped him for it.

The manager claimed Hughes charged the security guard, who then radioed the others who were near the front entrance. At the gate by that entrance is where the rest of the story gets murky.

Investigators are now waiting on the Medical Examiner’s office to declare a cause of death.



Forecast: RV Shipments to Rise Over Next Two Years

June 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin, RVIA forecaster

The recreation vehicle industry’s shipments are expected to reach 269,700 units in 2012, 6.9 percent above the 2011 total of 252,300.

According to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin, released at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Joint Committee Luncheon today (June 11), shipments will rise to 280,000 units in 2013, a gain of 3.8 percent from the projected total for 2012.

“RVs are a bellwether industry,” said Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, who produces the monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment, during his presentation to RVIA members at the association’s annual Committee Week. “I expect the RV market to consistently grow at a moderate pace over the next two years.”

The industry’s growth is a sign of the RV’s position in American culture, Curtin told RVIA members at the luncheon. According to Curtin, RVs have always been purchased as a means of achieving some valued outcome. Evidence from recent studies continue to support the traditional industry label of RVs being a family-oriented product.

The positive RV outlook comes at a time when fundamental changes have taken root in the economy, in consumer demand, and in the RV market.

“Future RV buyers will be both younger and older than before,” said Curtin. “They will likely have more limited budgets, own smaller tow vehicles, and will live and play in different locations.”

“The RV’s iconic status is based on consumers’ strong desire to own an RV,” said Curtin. “This reflects deeply held family values, the enduring appeal of the natural environment, and people’s desire to instill in the next generation their cherished traditions.”

While Curtin anticipates that core demand for RVs will remain strong in the decades ahead, he said the RV units themselves will continue to evolve at an escalating pace.

“Just as today’s vehicles are similar, but completely different than yesterday’s, tomorrow’s RVs need to be transformed to meet the needs of an ever-changing consumer,” Curtin said.

“Consumers have only begun to express their changing RV preferences to match their changing economic circumstances and lifestyles,” Curtin said. “Consumers want an equivalent RV experience at a price that meets their new budget constraints. These limitations are likely to persist for some years to come. Importantly, lasting gains will come from innovative features and quality improvements based on a consumer-centric approach to each segment.”


RVIA: RV Shipments to Rise 5% This Year

March 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Wholesale RV shipments are expected to total 265,200 units in 2012, according to University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin’s latest projection as announced in the Spring 2012 issue of RV Roadsigns, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) quarterly forecast of deliveries to RV retailers.

As reported by RVBUSINESS.COM, the gain to 265,200 units would be a 5.1% increase over the 2011 year-end total of 252,300 units. Curtin says growth will be driven by gains in conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers with motorhomes also posting a small increase due to improving economic conditions.

Previously, Curtin had forecasted a 2.6% decline in RV shipments in 2012.

“RV sales will benefit from stronger economic growth, increased job opportunities, and easing consumer credit,” Curtin said. “Importantly, the private sector will be responsible for the moderate rebound as the growth rate in spending by federal, state and local governments will decline.”

Curtin: Consumers, OEMs Will Endure Economy

December 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin

A resilient and adaptive consumer base will help RV industry shipments continue on a flat but stable track in the coming year, according to University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin in the Winter edition of Road Signs.

“RV sales face stiff headwinds in the year ahead. Uncertainty about job and income prospects, stagnating wages, depressed home values and the likelihood of rising taxes will affect RV sales,” Curtin noted. “While these factors will prevent an increase in RV sales, neither will they prompt significant declines. Although consumers will be apprehensive, they will continue to buy RVs.”

As reported during the recently completed National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., shipments are expected to total 247,100 in 2011 – representing a 2% gain from 242,300 in the previous year – while third-quarter shipments fell 4% to 55,900 units. Curtin said that flat trend would continue in 2012, forecasting a 2.6% dip in shipments to 240,600.

“Notably, shipments increase on a seasonally adjusted basis in the second half of 2012, with most of the renewed strength in conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers,” Curtin said.

Towables have understandably been propping up the industry for the past few years as discretionary dollars have tightened in line with a weakened economy, impacting sales of higher-priced motorhomes.

“The 2008-2009 downturn had the largest impact on motorhomes, which represent approximately 10% of the total RV market,” Curtin noted. “Motorhomes are more dependent on accumulated home equity, which continues to decline. Motorhomes are likely to improve at a relatively greater pace in the decade ahead as stricter fuel economy standards reduce the towing capacity of the household vehicle fleet.”

Curtin added that in order to cater to a more economy-conscious consumer and cope with continued volatility, manufacturers would, in turn, need to adopt a more conservative approach to business.

“In the current economic environment, both consumers and manufacturers understand that they must find new ways to maximize value. Economic uncertainty has taken its toll, and it is likely to increase month-to-month variations in sales that largely disappear when summed across the year,” he said. “And with sales expected to be relatively stable at moderate levels, such temporary variations may prompt false market signals and inappropriate reactions. Such an economic environment places a premium on cost controls and inventory management as the best means to handle the expected variations in sales.”

RVIA: RV Shipment Growth to Slow Through 2012

August 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Richard Curtin

With consumer confidence sliding and a clouded economic outlook, growth in recreation vehicle shipments is expected to slow, according to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Richard Curtin.

RV shipments are expected to total 247,500 units in 2011, a gain of 2.1% percent above the 2010 total of 242,300. Shipments are expected to decline 2% in 2012 to 242,400 units, according to a release from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

“RV sales face challenges from the slowdown in economic growth,” said Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, who produces the monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment. “Just as the last downturn was more severe than typical, the slowdown in the year ahead can be expected to be milder than average, but, unfortunately, more long lasting.”

The flatter projection for RV shipments is based on recent steep declines in consumer confidence that coincided with the debt limit showdown in the U.S. Congress. In addition, Curtin noted a “pervasive uncertainty” about job and income prospects, stagnating wages, depressed home values, and the likelihood of rising taxes. Each of these factors will adversely affect RV sales, according to Curtin.

“As a result, consumers have become more defensive minded, favoring spending cutbacks in response to financial setbacks rather than drawing down their savings or increasing their debt,” said Curtin.

In Curtin’s analysis, these economic conditions will persist and put an added premium on the ability of manufacturers to allow consumers to have the same cherished RV experiences within new budget realities.

“Rightsizing RVs for the decade ahead will require fresh thinking about design and layout as well as features and amenities,” Curtin said. “Those that adapt and evolve their products to meet the new economic realities will reap the benefits of market leadership.”

RVIA is the national association representing approximately 400 manufacturers and component suppliers producing 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

RVIA: RV Ownership Hits Record 8.9M Households

June 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin

Recreation vehicle industry analyst and economist Richard Curtin presented new demographic data on Monday (June 6) showing that the number of RV-owning households has grown to a new peak of 8.9 million households, up from 7.9 million in 2005.

Speaking during the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s annual Committee Week in Washington, D.C., Curtin told Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) members that new research reveals 8.5% of U.S. households now own RVs, up from 8.0% in 2005, 7.6% in 2001, 7.3% in 1997, and 6.8% in 1993.

“Today’s record RV ownership levels reflect the enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle despite economic challenges,” Curtin told RVIA members.

Curtin, who is director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, is a leading economist who also publishes a closely watched monthly consumer confidence report.

RV ownership rates have surged among adults aged 35-54 and 55 and over, according to Curtin. In the 35-54 demographic, RV ownership went from 9.0% in 2005 to 11.2% today. Among those 55 and older, ownership rates grew from 8.6% to 9.4%. Ownership rates among young people 34 and under fell slightly from 5.0% to 4.7%.

“Growth among the 35-to-54 year old age group is impressive,” said Curtin. “I believe the industry’s Go RVing outreach campaign had a lot to do with this growth. This is a strong finding for the industry’s future.”

Travel trailer ownership rates grew fastest, going from 4.1% in 2005 to 4.8% in 2011. Motorhomes experienced growth as well, from 1.9% to 2.1%. Rates among truck campers and folding camping trailers were nearly identical. Truck camper ownership rates are 1.7% today vs. 1.8% in 2005. Folding camping trailers are owned by 0.5% of households today compared to 0.4% in 2005.

Curtin’s remarks were based on preliminary analysis of RV consumer surveys. A complete report on his findings is anticipated later this year.

RVIA is the national association representing approximately 400 manufacturers and component suppliers producing 98% of all RVs made in the United States.