2018 Wholesale RV Shipments Match All-Time High, Inching Slightly Above 2017 Levels

Aug 30, 2018

A newly released forecast of RV industry shipments reveals that 505,900 units are expected to be shipped to RV dealers in 2018, capping nine straight years of growth and resulting in the highest annual total for the RV market. According to the RV Industry Association, this figure is driven by strong second quarter shipment numbers of 134,502, the third-highest quarterly shipment total in more than 40 years.

Buttressed by the current job and wage growth throughout the U.S., the RV market maintained historic shipment levels in 2018. The new projection calls for RV shipments in 2019 to range between 485,900 and 510,600 units with the most likely total to be 497,100 units, according to RV RoadSigns, the industry shipment tracking survey conducted by Dr. Richard Curtin, Director of the Surveys of Consumers at the University of Michigan.

“RV shipments have experienced incredible gains year after year for nearly a decade, and this new industry data indicates the total number of shipments will continue to hover near or exceed the half-million-mark next year,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the RV Industry Association. “Despite the headwinds caused by uncertainty over the effect of tariffs, it is promising to see expectations of continued strength in future RV shipments. It is a tribute to our manufacturer and supplier members commitment to product innovation – as well as the increasing excitement for the RV lifestyle among consumers - that the shipment numbers will stay remarkably strong for a third straight year.”

The second quarter 2018 shipment totals are third only to 2017 second quarter totals and the numbers recorded in the first quarter of 2018. Shipments maintained that momentum in July. Shipments last month totaled 36,525 units, a 10.9 percent rise over the 32,936 units shipped in July 2017. Year-to-date shipments now stand at 308,113 units, a 6.5 percent gain over the 289,366 units shipped through the first seven months of last year.

As always, the RV shipping outlook is based not only on key economic indicators, but also on population trends. The economy remains strong, but tariff concerns as well as the potential of rising interest rates and inflation serve to temper this latest shipment forecast. Population trends, on the other hand, are decidedly in the RV industry’s long-term favor. For instance, the number of Americans between 55 and 74 years old, always a sweet spot for the RV industry with their love of traditional and large units, will reach 79 million in 2025, 15 percent higher than that age group totaled in 2015. And 72 million millennials, who favor smaller, high-tech trailers as part of their embrace of the RV lifestyle, will be 30-45 years old in 2025.