It was an extremely strong year for the recreational vehicle industry, and the growth was expected to continue this year, industry officials said Monday, Jan. 27.
RV wholesale shipments in 2013 rose 12.4 percent from the year prior, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association announced. The 321,127 units shipped in 2013 nearly doubled the annual total from 2009 and marked the fourth consecutive annual increase.
Wholesale deliveries in December climbed 14.3 percent compared to the previous December, the largest December total in six years.
Towable RV shipments increased 9.8 percent from 2012, while motorhomes surged 35.9 percent to 38,332 units for the year.
"2013 was a great year," said Jim Mac, spokesman for Keystone RV, a towables division of Thor Industries. "Except for 2008-2009, we've been increasing every year."
Mac said Keystone enjoyed "steady, very manageable growth" in 2013. He stopped short of predicting this year's numbers, but said he feels "very good" about 2014.
"We're still seeing lots of traffic at shows, lot of sales at shows, and young people at shows," Mac said. He noted that Baby Boomers will still be buying RVs in the coming years, but he praised the RVIA's efforts to market to younger customers.
Bryan Hilbert, a regional sales manager with Renegade RV, said his company's nearly 40-percent growth in 2013 mirrored that of the industry. Renegade added a new line, which meant new jobs.
"Floor planning companies are being more liberal with the funding to do that, and banks have loosened up (credit for RV buyers) considerably over the past couple years," Hilbert said. "There was a backlog of interest in the past couple years."
The Bristol-based company has set a similar growth target for 2014, but growth somewhere in the 25- to 30-percent rage is probably more "realistic," Hilbert said.
Hilbert said attendance at the recent Florida RV Show in Tampa seemed a bit down, but the weather was unseasonably cold and rainy.
Chuck Lasley, vice president of corporate communications at RV maker Jayco, said that although the 2013 numbers reflected pent-up demand as the economy improved, "my hope is we can sustain that and grow that" this year. The company is confident there is more growth potential from the Baby Boomer segment of the market as more people retire and look to buy motorhomes.
Lasley noted he was pleased with the foot traffic and sales results from the Tampa show. He said the industry's growth will continue to have a positive "ripple effect" for the greater Elkhart economy.