RV industry shows more signs of recovery

  • Article by: BRUCE SCHREINER , Associated Press
  • Updated: December 3, 2013 - 8:22 PM

Sales are approaching prerecession levels, thanks to easier credit.

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Winnebago motor homes in Jefferson, Iowa. Led by sales growth for towable RVs and stand-alone motor homes, recreational vehicle makers expect to ship more than 300,000 units to dealers in 2013.

Photo: CHARLIE NEIBERGALL • Associated Press file,

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– RV manufacturers expect to pass another milestone in their steady recovery from the recession that landed the industry in a deep ditch.

Led by sales growth for towable RVs and pricier stand-alone motor homes, recreational vehicle makers expect to ship more than 300,000 units to dealers’ lots this year for the first time since the economic downturn battered the industry in 2008 and 2009.

Those grim days are now in the rear view mirror. Employment across the industry has rebounded, and consumers who once picked small, no-frills travel trailers — dubbed “recession trailers” — are now trading up or buying larger, pricier RVs.

“We’re back to a more normal market where people are stepping up and buying nicer equipped travel trailers,” said RV dealer Debbie Brunoforte, who has logged her best postrecession sales year at her lots in Phoenix and Mesa, Ariz.

Shipments from RV manufacturers to dealers — a key measure of consumer demand — are expected to reach 316,300 units in 2013, up nearly 11 percent from last year’s total of 285,749, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association said Tuesday on the first day of the industry’s trade show in Louisville. More gains are projected for next year.

“These are good times, you guys, really good times,” RVIA President Richard Coon said at the trade show’s kickoff event Tuesday.

Through October, 2013 shipments were up nearly 13 percent from the same period last year, the group said. Next year’s overall shipments are expected to rise another 6 percent, to 335,500 units.

It’s a big turnaround from 2009, when shipments sank to 165,700 units amid weak demand and dried up credit that left dealers’ lots filled with the hulking vehicles. Some manufacturers closed their doors, and those that survived cut their workforces.

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