The RV Industry Association recently reported how RV shipments finished 2018 at the second highest annual total in nearly a half century. While the annual loss from the record set in 2017 was 4.1 percent, the decline recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018 was the third consecutive year-to-year quarterly loss. Moreover, fourth quarter declines were recorded for every type of RV, with the sole exception of Class B motorhomes, according to RVIA. Overall, RV shipments in the closing quarter of 2018 were down by 16.9 percent on a year-to-year basis.
RV shipments are expected to total 460,100 in 2019, a decline of 4.9 percent from 2018. In a pattern similar to 2018, shipments of all types of RVs are anticipated to decline except for type B motorhomes. Other than for the past two years, total RV shipments for 2019 are expected to be higher than in any prior year since 1973.
Some of the first quarter 2019 softness is expected to be due to unusual weather and the federal government shutdown, shifting some shipments into the second quarter of 2019, with the inventory balance being actively managed by the industry, according to RVIA.
Income, employment, and household wealth will continue to exert a positive force on advancing RV sales, although the pace of gains in these key metrics are anticipated to be slower in 2019. While a slower pace of interest rate hikes is anticipated, credit is expected to tighten slightly for consumers and dealers in 2019.
Cost to manufacture RVs are likely to moderate with falling labor demand and lower commodity prices, but it could be offset by higher tariffs. In addition, sales of new RVs will compete with a growing number of used RVs.