The RV expansion continues to set new records in terms of units shipped and total years of 600 uninterrupted sales growth. RV shipments are expected to total 472,200 in 2017 and to increase to 487,200 in 2018. There has been only two years in the past half century that RV shipments were higher, in 1972 and 1973.
Moreover, 2018 will mark the ninth consecutive year of expansion, nearly twice the old record of five years set in 2006. Shipments of conventional travel trailers reached a new all-time peak in 2016, accounting for 66 percent of all shipments, and can be expected to maintain that dominant share in 2017 and 2018. Motorhomes accounted for 13 percent of all shipments in 2016, which is expected to rise to 14 percent in 2018, the highest share in a decade.
At the start of 2017, RV shipments surged to its highest quarterly level in nearly 40 years. Shipments totaled the highest shipment rate of any quarter since 1978, with the monthly strength totals rising throughout the quarter for all types of RVs. The quarterly gains were widespread, with type B and C motorhomes up by more than 30 percent from year earlier levels, and conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers up by over 10 percent.
In contrast, the totals for folding camping trailers and truck campers fell by just over 10 percent compared with a year ago.
The favorable RV outlook is based on continued modest gains in jobs, incomes, and household wealth and relatively low levels of inflation, unemployment, and interest rates. To be sure, it is likely that inflation and interest rates will move higher, although the size of the increase will be too low to significantly influence sales.
RV sales have flourished over the past several years in a 2 percent growth economy, and will likely continue to grow in the year ahead.