OCEAN CITY – Despite some stellar weekend events, the month of June is creeping to an end with some local businesses hoping for proverbial and literal sunnier skies.
According to the National Weather Service, the town of Ocean City has only seen two back-to-back sunny days (June 1 and 2) and although June is historically a slow month compared to July and August, local businesses are starting to think that the economy is playing a larger role that what they might have previously let on.
“June is June in Ocean City,” said Councilman Joe Hall, owner of Hall’s Restaurant, “but if June was down last season, and this one is off from last year, I do think the economy is a bigger factor than what some are willing to admit. I could put ‘free’ on my sign during the middle of the week, and I still wouldn’t fill up all my restaurant seats.”
Up to this point, each June weekend in Ocean City has seen at least a bit of rain or cloudy skies, causing a Saturday weather delay at the Air Show two weeks and the AVP volleyball tour and Ocean City Beachfest last weekend.
Still, Mayor Rick Meehan warns that things would be much worse if those special events weren’t in town at all.
“Weather is always a factor, but I think it’s a factor this year more than ever,” said Meehan. “If you take away those events, and couple it with bad weather, you’d have even less than what you have now.”
As with any outdoor event, weather always plays a part in whether or not it’s a success, and Meehan said that the large crowds that stayed and patiently waited out the delays prove the point that people were committed to enjoying the special events the town offered.
“We are probably going to have to draw 10 percent more people than we did last year just to make the same money as we did in 2008, and that’s why we are trying so hard to draw new people to Ocean City and get the word out about everything we have to offer,” said Meehan.
The general buzz around town amongst those in the business community seem to ring an “about the same” or “slight decline” in sales thus far, causing some to blame the economy, while others point the finger at the town’s advertising strategy.
“Everyone in town is serving less people for less profits, but the air show is an example of a great special event that brings in tons of people,” said Hall. “So I would almost like to see 10 great special events, rather than us spend $3 million on advertising Rodney the Lifeguard.”
Bull on the Beach Kitchen Manager Matt Saloney said that June hasn’t been a record-breaking month by any means, but says that the outlook isn’t as dire as some indicate.
“It fluctuates,” said Saloney. “Some days we are up and others we are down from last year, but we are still pretty confident overall for the rest of the summer.”
Beachfest promoter Brad Hoffman said that the weather is always the wild card that he can’t plan ahead for, especially when he spends almost a year planning each event.
“Weather is always the biggest factor for a weekend outdoor event,” he said. “You want to have that Super Bowl-type day on Saturday and when you get bad weather like we did for most of last Saturday at Beachfest, it certainly effects the overall turnout of the event.”
Hall contends that another factor is that the town’s businesses are dealing with shorter stays by some of its guests, saying the town needs to address that in its advertising campaign.
“They are trying really hard to draw people to come to town and stay for three or four days, but they aren’t putting in as much effort with trying to get the week-long guests,” said Hall. “They dropped the ball in saying that it’s acceptable to stay for a few days because seasonal businesses can’t survive on just a few days a week each week in the summer.”
Technically, the month of June has only seen just less than four inches of rain, which is less than last month’s total of 5.68 inches. However, where those overcast and rainy days have fallen on the calendar, (mostly on days on or leading up to the weekend) potentially may have dispelled some last-minute travelers from heading to the resort.
“It’s never going to be an exact science,” said Meehan, “but we need to have a full arsenal of special events and let people know about them so when the weather is good, we can all capitalize on it.”
Rainfall In Inches*
May 24: 0
May 25: .91
May 26: .13
May 27: .01
May 28: .09
May 29: 1.18
May 30-June 2: 0
June 3: .04
June 4: .33
June 5: .74
June 6-7: 0
June 8: .01
June 9: .15
June 10: 0
June 11: .24
June 12: .01
June 13: .09
June 14-16: 0
June 17: .38
June 18: .30
June 19: 0
June 20: .67
June 21: 0
June 22: .76
June 23: 0
June 24: .04
* Source: The Weather Channel for 21842 zip code