The Wall Street Journal reports that Elkhart, Indiana, is the industrial hub of American RV manufacturing, has been used by analysts and economist as a leading indicator of consumer demand for luxury items.
Domestic shipments of RVs to dealers have plummeted 20% so far this year, compared to the same period last year, after dropping 4% in 2018, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.
Michael Hicks, a Ball State University economist who tracks the industry, warned that the fall in RV shipments could indicate a broader economic downturn is ahead. Hicks said shipments had fallen sharply just before the last three U.S. recessions.
Hicks said, "the RV industry is better at calling recessions than economists are."
He said weakening consumer demand for RVs coupled with increasing vehicle prices due to tariffs suggests the economy is headed for a downturn.