OCEAN CITY – The beautiful weather last weekend brought the largest crowds since 2003 to Ocean City and booming sales for most businesses.
The demoflush numbers calculated for this past three-day weekend reflected what most saw in the town this past weekend, large crowds. The demoflush numbers come from a system that calculates the number of people in town based on wastewater flow from the resort and are used as estimates. The demoflush numbers from this past weekend estimated 277,581 people in town, which topped last year’s 276,582 people. In fact, the numbers topped the past three years, which saw 258,269 people in 2005, and 256,326 in 2004. Ocean City hasn’t seen such an influx of people for a Labor Day weekend since 2003, which brought in 280,633 people.
The numbers seen on paper and the crowds seen around town provide for a fitting end to the 2007 summer season, reflecting the good weather that was seen throughout the summer and the consistent crowds that kept businesses on their toes.
Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA), was pleased with the past weekend and the crowds that came along with it.
“We actually had a very strong weekend, thanks to good old mother sunshine,” Jones said.
In a resort town where the beach is the strongest selling point, and the weather steers the moods and pockets of visitors, weather is always a factor that can tip the scale one way or another. Nearly all businesses in Ocean City cross their fingers and hold their breath, hoping for perfect weather to come their way. Fortunately for Ocean City, good weather was seen this past weekend, as well as for the majority of the summer.
Greg Shockley, owner of Shenanigan’s Irish Pub on 4th Street and the Boardwalk, agreed that the weather provided for a successful and enjoyable weekend.
“We had a very good Labor Day Weekend, the weather was perfect,” he said.
Shockley noted that the entire town seemed busy. He also added that the weather was almost too perfect, bringing a majority of the people to the beach instead of into the restaurants during the day. The nighttime crowd made up for the mid-day lag however, bringing strong crowds into Shenanigans off the boards.
“It was a nice way to cap off the season,” Shockley said.
According to Shockley, the entire summer was a success for the Boardwalk landmark.
“We had a very good summer,” he said, noting the benefit of the good weather.
Harborside Bar & Grill, located in West Ocean City, also experienced a strong summer, capped off with a successful Labor Day weekend. Manager De McCormack said the weekend was indeed a good one.
“We did have a good weekend,” she said. “It was definitely busier than we normally are (on Labor Day).”
McCormack also noted that the summer as a whole was busier as well. “We really did well this summer,” she concluded.
In town, business was booming at Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon, located on 28th Street and Coastal Highway. Owner Doug Buxbaum was pleased with the Labor Day weekend that is often hit or miss in Ocean City.
“This weekend was excellent, the weather was tremendous,” Buxbaum said.
Overall, Buxbaum noted a summer of booming business as well.
“Overall I was pleased. We were right where we were last year, if not a little better,” he said.
Although rave reviews of this summer can be heard from several local businesses, it is no secret that the trend of vacationers is changing in Ocean City. This summer saw weekdays with numerous vacancy signs lighting up Coastal Highway, which contrasted the busy crowds seen on the weekends.
“I think overall it was definitely a mixed bag,” Susan Jones said of the 2007 summer season, explaining that the opinions ran the gamut with some businesses marking an increase in business, others noting a decrease, and many remaining on par with past seasons. “The increases in expenses has taken away from the bottom line.”
Jones also attributed the mixed reports to a change in trends.
“It’s no longer an entire season, now we just get a couple good weeks,” she said.
Jones also attributed the change to new vacation patterns, noting that families don’t vacation the way they once did. Jones also noted that there are more choices for vacation destinations than there used to be due to the availability of the Internet, which is making it mandatory for Ocean City to broaden its horizons and come off of the laurels its been resting on for so long.
“We have to come up with more innovative things, for so long we’ve been doing the same thing,” she said.
Despite the summer season that has seemed to shorten, the shoulder season of fall has expanded, leaving businesses looking forward to a strong fall season.
“The fall looks good, mostly thanks to having an event every weekend,” Jones said, noting that the next two months will be full of weekend events that will bring large crowds. “Bike week is without a doubt the No. 1 economic driver in the fall.”
Restaurateurs agreed that the town has done a great job at providing reasons for the crowds to keep traveling to Ocean City throughout the fall.
“September is usually our third busiest month,” De McCormack said, adding that she sees no reason why it won’t be as busy, if not busier, this fall at Harborside.
Shockley agreed that the fall is usually a good time for Shenanigans. He added that thanks to the planned events throughout the next couple months, the next six to seven weekends will be bringing crowds due to scheduled events.
“If the weather holds up, we should have a good fall,” he said.
Buxbaum is also looking forward to a strong fall season, agreeing that September is one of the top three months for business at Buxy’s.
“September’s a great month,” he said. “October should be a strong month as well this year.”