RV makers are cashing in due to COVID and social distancing


By Timothy Aeppel

At least one American industry is rolling toward a V-shaped recovery.

Wholesale shipments of recreational vehicles – which have surged in popularity as Americans sought to travel without the need to touch hotel or restaurant doorknobs – are projected to set a record next year, according to an analysis seen by Reuters prepared for the RV Industry Association. The report is being released today.

The new analysis estimates shipments could hit 507,200 units. Such an achievement would represent a nearly 20% rise over the report’s new estimate for 2020 and exceed the previous peak of 504,600 units shipped in 2017.

The trade group’s president, Craig Kirby, said in a release that people see RVs “as a way to have the freedom to travel and experience an outdoor lifestyle while also controlling their environment.”

Other outdoor-oriented industries have seen a similar trend. Sales of swimming pools, boats, and all-terrain vehicles have all surged since lockdowns were lifted earlier this year.

The RV industry, centered around Elkhart, Indiana, was largely shut down for two months early in the coronavirus pandemic. But then business roared back. The report’s projection for 2020 is shipments of 424,400 units. That would represent a 4.5% increase over 2019. Some manufacturers are reporting shortages of parts and other supply chain constraints amid the upswing in manufacturing.

The report was prepared for the trade group by an outside consultant, ITR Economics.

(Reporting by Timothy Aeppel; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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