Ocean City Business at Mid-Season, 2009

Posted on July 13, 2009

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The Boardwalk looks festive and crowded in Ocean City, Maryland. And you see a lot of cars in the parking lot at the WalMart between Berlin and Ocean City.

What you don’t see is very many tourists carrying filled shopping bags on the Boardwalk. And you won’t see every parking space filled along Baltimore Avenue and St. Louis Avenue. You can find a parking space in Ocean City without hardly trying, with the possible exception of Saturdays.

Yes, there are plenty of bicycle riders enjoying the Boardwalk in the morning, and lots of people enjoying the sun and surf on the beach all day long. The Boardwalk looks bustling in the evenings. But the truth is, Ocean City businesses would like to see the resort a bit more crowded at the middle of July. 

People are visiting Ocean City from all over the East Coast this summer. They just aren’t staying as many days as they used to — you hear that a lot. Many visitors are day-trippers, driving to OC in the morning and returning home the same evening — you hear that a lot. And visitors are not spending money as freely as they used to — everybody says so.

It’s going to be a disappointing summer for retailers in Ocean City. Restaurants in general will be OK. People are still going to get a pizza or ice cream or crab cakes, even if they’re only in town for a single day or a few days. Some say hotel and motel occupancy was a little soft last year. It will be a little more so this season. Ditto for condo rentals, I think. Don’t even ask about condo sales.

That’s your local economic report. It’s the middle of July and it’s clear that 2009 is not going to be a banner year for Ocean City. It’s going to be a disappointing season. But Ocean City has had disappointing seasons before. The resort will survive this nationwide recession.

I’m more interested in how well the economy will bounce back next year. And what are the mid-term and long-term implications of the 2008-2009 economic crisis?   I’ll think about that in the fall.  — Bernie Hayden

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