The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association reports that RV deliveries to retailers continued to climb in July posting totals of 25,400 units, up 16% from this same month last year. Unit deliveries, year to date, have now managed totals of more than 180,400 units, up 14.1% above this same period one year ago.
Seasonally adjusted, shipments in July were at an annual rate of just under 300,000 units, up more than 3% from last month, as both towable and motorhome products made sharp gains. This marked the best July shipment total since 1978.
The Index of Consumer Sentiment continued to hold near all-time record highs following an insignificant slip in the July monthly results. The survey of consumers recorded a 105.2 reading in July, 1998, according to the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, down from the recent all-time high of 110.4 recorded last February. It appears these recent declines can be traced to consumers expectations of a slowing in the rate of economic growth.
"That consumer confidence has ebbed is a natural occurrence following record high levels recorded earlier this year" said Dr. Richard Curtin, director of the survey. "Importantly, the majority of consumers remain optimistic and judged their personal financial situation quite favorably in the July survey."
Deliveries to retailers of all towable RVs increased nearly 5% over last month to finish at 20,400 units in July, and up 15.9% over this same month last year. Year to date, wholesale shipments of towables have climbed to 143,800 units, up 14.2% over this same period one year ago.
Deliveries of conventional and folding camping trailers continued their year long improvement rising 24.7% and 20% in July respectively. Year to date, conventional travel trailers are ahead of last year by 21.5% and should easily top the 79,100 units of 1994 (the best total for these units since 1979). Shipments of fifth-wheel travel trailers are already at 33,900 units this year and are likely to set another all-time record high for deliveries in 1998. Folding camping trailers are on a similar path and at 41,900 units, year to date, should easily pass the cyclical high of 61,700 units of 1994.
July was another very good month for all motorhome shipments as totals rose to 5,000 units, up 16.3% over this same month last year. Year to date, all motorhomes have reached 36,300 units, up 13.7% ahead of this period last year.
Type A motorhomes continued their improvement in July gaining 13.8% over this same month last year and have now risen 12.7%, year to date. Type C motorhomes have also performed well, gaining 16.7% in July and up 22.4%, year to date.
Deliveries of all conversion vehicles in July were at 12,800 units, down slightly from last month. Through July, pickup truck conversions have been the hardest hit as they are off 44.4% from this same period last year. Van conversions still make up the largest volume of conversions and are down 18.2% through July. While the number of conversions has continued to drop this year the rate of decline has begun to decrease and we should see a stabilization in shipments in the near future.