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Dealers express appetite for higher sales during Minneapolis RV show

Dealers indicated a positive outlook for the RV buying season while attending the Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show last week but said sales still need to gain more steam.

“Inventory was called out as ‘fine’ by nearly everyone we talked to,” BMO Capital Markets Analyst Gerrick Johnson said in a report provided to Powersports Finance. “But we received several comments that retail sales need to kick in before they can feel really comfortable.”

Total RV shipments have been trending downward, falling 16% year over year to 406,070 units, according to the RV Industry Association. December sales were described as very slow in Minnesota due to an early winter. Despite the sales slump last year, February has gotten off to a “good start,” while January sales improved month over month, Johnson said.

Additionally, dealers stated that promotional activity was “rational,” and no vehicle was being excessively promoted, which is a “positive sign” that OEMs are dialing back, Johnson said. “We are maintaining our industry forecasts for flat year-over-year wholesale and retail unit sales for 2020.”

Meanwhile, the RVIA forecasts that shipments will improve in 2020, compared with last year’s fall off, due to the improving U.S. economy. Wholesale shipments are expected to come in at 386,400 units in 2020, representing a 3.9% decline YoY.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show is an industry and consumer trade show oriented toward towable RVs and Forest River products. While the show offers insight into the dealer and consumer mindset, it likely provides less of a readthrough for public OEMs, such as Thor and Winnebago, BMO noted.

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