I have no idea if they’re a particularly good predictor of recessions, but January sales have fallen 40% relative to a year previous…
Figure 1: Total recreational vehicle shipments for 2017 (dark blue) and 2018 (brown), and 2018 (light blue) vs 2019 (tan). Source: RVIA, and author’s calculations.
A longer time series suggests a slowdown at a minimum.
Figure 2: Year on year growth in total recreational vehicle shipments (dark blue), 1982-2017 average (red line), and January 12 month growth (light blue). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: RVIA, and author’s calculations.
Using the methodology outlined in this post, one can estimate the probability of a recession in 2019: 16%. Using data updated to end-2018 (rather than October 2018), the probability of recession is now higher by 5 percentage points.
The 16% probability is less than the 20% probability the model implies for 2001, and the same as the probability estimated for 1996 (a year that NBER did not declare a recession).
Figure 3: Recession probability from probit using lagged rv shipments growth rate. Red line at 16%. Source: Author’s calculations.