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'The RV space is on fire': Millennials expected to push sales to record highs

Sometimes, bigger isn't always better.

The recreational vehicle industry has figured that out and it has led to record-breaking growth.

This year, RV shipments are expected to hit their highest level ever, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, marking the industry's eighth consecutive year of gains.

Those shipments are accelerating, and should grow even more next year, the group said. Sales in the first quarter rose 11.7 percent from 2016.

Much of the growth can be attributed to strong sales of trailers, smaller units that can be towed behind an SUV or minivan, which dominate the RV market. The industry also is drawing in new customers.

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As the economy has strengthened since the Great Recession, and consumer confidence improved, sales have picked up, said Kevin Broom, director of media relations for RVIA.

Two of the major players in the industry, Thor Industries and Winnebago Industries, both manufacturers of RVs, reported huge growth in their most recent earnings report. Thor saw sales skyrocket 56.9 percent to $2.02 billion fromlast year. Winnebago's surged 75.1 percent last quarter to $476.4 million.

Gerrick Johnson, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, attributed much of that growth to acquisitions. Thor bought Jayco, then the No. 3 player in the industry, last June; Winnebago bought Grand Design in October.

Although Thor shares...


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