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Cody Carlisle staples together sidewalls before they are laminates at the Evergreen plant north of Middlebury on Jan. 10, 2014. (J. Tyler Klassen/ The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)
Forecast sees 2014 as a year of growth for the RV industry

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 4:52 p.m.

Recreational vehicle shipments were expected to rise by 5.7 percent this year over last year, for a total of 339,600 units, according to a report released Tuesday, March 11, by an industry expert.

The increase will fall short of the 12.4 percent annual increase in 2013 compared to 2012, but industry output will still reach its highest level since 2007, according to a quarterly forecast that Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan Consumer Survey Research Center prepares for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

Motorhome shipments are projected to more rapidly expand, by 14.3 percent. Conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers are expected to post a gain of 4.7 percent in 2014.

Motorhomes' share of total RV shipments was expected to rise another full percentage point, to 12.9 percent.

"Importantly, the dollar volume of RV sales will grow much more rapidly than units due to a growing share of motorhomes (which cost much more than other RVs)," Curtin said in a statement. "Strong GDP gains will strengthen job and income growth in 2014."

While the availability of credit is expected to improve, there will be growing concerns about when and how fast interest rates will rise, Curtin said.

Curtin said sales so far this year have been slowed by frigid weather, and larger home heating bills will initially slow the pace of the rebound for some models. He urged manufacturers to pace production to evolving consumer preferences, "otherwise today's cabin fever will morph into discount fever in the fall."