Which Recorded an 11% Increase in Shipments During the First Half of 2005
Record Numbers of Consumers Will Spend Labor Day Weekend in Park Model RVs at Their Favorite Campground or RV Resort
NEWNAN, Ga., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ — National shipments of recreational park trailers were up 11 percent during the first half of 2005 as record numbers of consumers bought into the idea of using a trailer product as a vacation home, according to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
Unlike mobile homes, which are a form of low-cost, permanent housing, recreational park trailers or “park models” are 400-square foot movable resort cottages that are designed exclusively for part-time recreational use. Typically upscale in appearance, they often include bay windows and lofts as well as walnut, oak or maple cabinetry. And they can be left on a permanent campsite for an entire season.
“We knew demand for park trailers was strong, but we frankly didn’t expect to outpace last year’s shipment figures to the extent that we have,” said William Garpow, a 30-year RV industry veteran who serves as executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA). “In the past two years,” he added, “we’ve gone from being one of the most obscure segments of the RV business to one of the most dynamic.”
Dynamic indeed. RPTIA reported 5,281 shipments during the first six months of this year, an 11 percent increase from the 4,762 shipments recorded a year earlier.
The 2005 statistics are significant, Garpow said, because they indicate that the nation’s 40-plus park trailer manufacturers and their dealers are selling units at a pace that will likely eclipse last year’s production figures, which were the highest in the history of the park model business.
RPTIA reported 9,186 park trailer shipments during calendar 2004, up 30 percent from the 7,074 shipments reported during the same period in 2003. Previously, RPTIA reported 7,363 shipments in 2002; 7,388 in 2001; 8,343 in 2000; and 8,161 in 1999.
Statistics compiled so far in 2005 include 2,481 shipments during the first quarter, a 15 percent gain over the 2,152 shipments recorded during the same period a year earlier, and 2,800 shipments during the second quarter, a 7 percent jump over the 2,610 shipments reported during April, May and June of 2004.
Garpow said the high volume of recreational park trailer or “park model” shipments reflects rising real estate prices, which are prompting record numbers of consumers to look for more affordable vacation dwellings.
It all comes down to economics. While condos and site-built homes in resort areas typically cost $200,000 or $300,000 or more, park models generally cost less than $50,000, with the average price being in the $35,000 range. Most park models are placed on campsites, which can be leased for $1,500 to $5,000 per year, depending on location. However, some consumers also place their units on private property and use them as vacation dwellings, subject to local zoning requirements.
Rising consumer demand for park models is also being supplemented by growing demand from campground operators, who use park models primarily to accommodate travelers who do not have RVs but want to enjoy the recreational lifestyle.
While it’s too soon to forecast the park model industry’s 2005 performance with precision, executives from some of the nation’s largest park trailer producers say they expect to match their record performance from 2004, including the Breckenridge Division of Damon Corp., a Thor company based in Nappanee, Ind.
Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco Industries has also demonstrated its confidence in the park model business by announcing plans to open a new park model production facility in Phoenix as well as an additional production facility in Seguin, Texas.
Garpow said the park trailer business, along with the rest of the RV and manufactured housing industries, could also be affected by Hurricane Katrina, which has potentially destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is again turning to these industries for emergency housing.
Additional sales will likely result from upcoming RV shows, such as the 37th annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey, Pa. The Sept. 14th to 18th show historically has the largest park model inventory of any RV show in the country. Additional RV shows with significant park model inventory include the 16th Annual Fall Detroit Camping and RV Show, slated for Oct. 5th to 9th, and the Florida RV Supershow, which will take place Jan. 18th to 22nd in Tampa.
RPTIA represents 41 recreational park trailer manufacturers that have pledged to the association that they will adhere to the American National Standards Institute ANSI A119.5 standard, which mandates more than 500 separate safety requirements for recreational park trailers. RPTIA assists its members in complying with the ANSI standard by providing unannounced inspections of the units being produced at the members’ manufacturing facilities by accredited third party engineering firms. Members of the association who are in compliance with the standards program have earned the right to proudly display RPTIA’s gold, blue and green oval seal, which is typically placed adjacent to the primary entrance to the recreational park trailer.
To obtain photos, statistics, consumer and campground contacts or other information regarding the growth of the recreational park trailer industry, please contract William Garpow at (770) 251-2672 or visit the association’s website at www.rptia.com.
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