U.S. economy capsizes luxury

In July 2006, Valley Boat Emporium in Fresno sold 53 boats. This month, owner Ron Monteverde says he'll be fortunate if he sells 15.

With gas prices up, home values down and the economy tanking, people aren't spending as much money on luxury items such as boats and recreational vehicles. Nationwide, boat sales have declined 30% over three years -- with 16% of that this year.

In California, the number of expired boat registrations in 2008 exceeds new ones, according to officials with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

"All segments are down," said Tom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association in Chicago, who relayed the figures. "The two biggest impacts have been the slump in the housing market and the decline in consumer confidence."

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