RV Sales Another Sign of Slowing Economy - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson, MS 06/24/2008

RV Sales Another Sign of Slowing Economy

By Monica Hernandez

Pearl residents Micley and Lucille Anderson had big plans for their RV when they bought it in 1999. But the Anderson's RV hasn't gone anywhere since October. The couple has chosen to keep it parked because of increased gas prices.

"It's nice to be able to say, honey, get me a glass of tea while you're driving down the road, but that luxury has a price tag on it, and that's making the payments and filling the tank up," said Mr. Anderson.

The  Anderons' bought the RV hoping to let the good times roll during retirement. They both retired in 2006, and all that's rolling are the payments-- the two are still paying the vehicle off. And with the RV getting about eight miles a gallon...

"I'll probably take a box of Kleenex to the pump with me to keep the tears out of my eyes when I see the numbers rolling over," said Mr. Anderson. 

Indeed, managers at Turning Wheel RV in Jackson say sales are down compared with last year. But the general manager, Dale McGee, said he's optimistic.

"We're not hurting. We're just tightening our belts and getting ready for more good times. We expect the market to be back booming before this time next year," said McGee.

The 15 billion dollar industry has had a reputation as a good indicator of the economy in general. That's because, for the past three decades, deliveries of motor homes and travel trailers have dropped before each decline in the U.S. economy.

"A lot of one location shops are having difficulty. Some have even closed," said McGee.

In fact, Winnebago announced recently that it would close a factory. And stocks for each of the five largest RV makers declined last year. But McGee is optimistic about his company. He said Turning Wheel is one of the South's largest RV dealers, and is looking to expand.

"The market is soft, but people who are campers are going to continue to camp," said McGee.

"If we do choose to travel, we'll pull money out of our savings, make the trip, and come home, but it won't be very often," said Mr. Anderson.

 Several other local RV dealerships said sales are down this year. McGee said it's as good an indicator of the economy as any other.

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