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RVIA News Release:
RV SHIPMENTS UP 20% AT MID-YEAR POINT, ON PACE TO BREAK QUARTER-CENTURY RECORD
Consumers Buying RVs at Record Pace, Despite High Fuel Prices
Factory-to-dealer deliveries of recreation vehicles (RVs) are up 20 percent for the first half of 2004 compared to the same period last year–on pace to set a quarter-century record, according to newly released data from Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Despite record-high gasoline prices nationwide this summer, June's RV dealers shipments were the highest for any June since 1977. For the first six months of 2004, shipments totaled 196,200 units compared to 163,500 units during the first half of 2003.
University of Michigan researcher Dr. Richard Curtin, who conducts quarterly forecasts for the RV industry, predicts RV wholesale shipments in 2004 will reach their highest level since 1978.
The strong shipment numbers have been spurred by increasing consumer demand for RVs. Retail rv dealers sales of RVs rose 15.2 percent in the first five months of 2004 compared to the same period last year, according to Statistical Surveys, Inc. In 2003 the RV industry earned record revenues of over $12 billion (as measured by the retail value of wholesale shipments).
"There are many factors behind the surge in RV sales. Among them are the rising popularity of driving vacations, a favorable economic climate, product innovation and demographics," explains RVIA President David Humphreys. "Families want to spend quality time together and prefer the greater freedom, flexibility, control and comfort RVs provide. Younger consumers are driving up sales-realizing the advantages of RVing over other forms of travel."
Also driving sales are new RV amenities like side-by-side refrigerators/freezers, gourmet kitchens with Corian countertops, wine cellars, convection ovens and home theater centers complete with DVD players, satellite TV with multiple plasma screens and surround sound speaker systems. One of the most popular RV innovations, slideouts, allow rooms to expand with the push of a button. Even smaller, less expensive units have more space and amenities than ever before. Some RVs even have built-in garages to make it easier to haul ATVs, motorcycles, mountain bikes and kayaks.
Additionally, RV buyers are still taking advantage of low interest rates to finance their purchases. Interest rates are expected to remain at comparatively low levels through the end of 2004, according to Curtin.
"The strength of sales this spring and summer has demonstrated that regardless of gas price fluctuations, RV ownership is a good value," explains RVIA President David Humphreys. "Buyers recognize the economic advantages that RV travel delivers over flying; driving a car or taking a train/bus and staying in a hotel; or taking a cruise. As fuel prices go up, costs for all these travel options rise, too, giving RV trips a continued edge on savings."
"While manufacturers in the United States have been cutting jobs, closing plants and moving production overseas, the RV industry is bucking the trend," Humphreys noted. "This ‘Made in America.' industry is adding new jobs and building domestic factories to meet consumer demand for RV products."
Long-term trends point to substantial RV dealers market growth because of favorable demographics and lifestyle trends. As baby boomers approach retirement age, the number of RV-owning households is projected to rise 15 percent between 2001-2010, outpacing overall U.S. household growth of 10 percent, according to a University of Michigan study. .
The University of Michigan study found the number of RVs owned by those 35 to 54 grew faster than all other age groups, bolstered by an industry advertising campaign aimed at the coveted baby boom generation. The Go RVing Coalition's national advertising campaign of print, television, radio and Internet ads is targeting adults age 30-64. The industry will spend approximately $50 million on the current three-year phase of this market expansion effort.
RVIA (rvia.org) is the national association representing more than 500 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.
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