By Timothy Aeppel
(Reuters) – The U.S. recreational vehicle industry continued its pandemic-driven boom in the first quarter of 2021, underscoring the lingering impact of the health and economic crisis on American consumer buying and leisure-time habits.
Wholesale shipments of RVs in North America, which surged as people sought ways to safely travel during the COVID-19 crisis, hit a record 148,507 units in the first quarter, nearly 10% above the previous record set in the first quarter of 2018, according to a survey of manufacturers by the RV Industry Association which was seen by Reuters. The data is being released later Monday morning.
The survey also found the industry shipped 54,291 RVs in March, which was more than in any previous month in the industry’s history.
Other types of outdoor-oriented industries have also boomed during the pandemic.
Sales of swimming pools, boats, and all-terrain vehicles all surged after initial lockdowns were lifted last year. Some manufacturers are reporting shortages of parts and other supply chain constraints amid the upswing in manufacturing. Labor shortages also are bedeviling the industry, which is struggling to fill jobs in production hubs like northern Indiana.
The RV association figures dovetail with U.S. Census Bureau data released earlier on Monday showing orders for long-lasting manufactured products – everything from airplanes and automobiles to refrigerators and computers – rose 0.5% in March from the previous month to $256.3 billion, one of the highest monthly totals on record. Non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft – so-called core durable goods orders – rose 0.9%, slightly less than expected.
New orders for all categories of motor vehicles and parts rose by 5.5% in March to $60.5 billion. Motor vehicle shipments were up 5.8% from February.
For a graphic on New orders for U.S. motor vehicle and parts:
(Reporting by Timothy Aeppel; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao)