Summer 2018: Far from the best for Jersey Shore businesses
At her shop on the Belmar boardwalk, Sari Perlstein would typically keep the doors open into November.
But this year, Exit 98 Boutique will finish its 2018 operations on Sept. 30.
Between the Belmar and Avon locations, business was down about 15 percent this summer compared to last, Perlstein said.
"I think it's year five of no spring — cold in May, rainy in June," she said. "July started fabulous and then the bad weather came again."
Business was struggling so much, she said, that the shop's major discounts began in July — when no sales should be necessary, at the beach, on summer wear.
Of the 15 weekends from the end of May through early September, nine featured measurable or substantial rain somewhere in the Garden State, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.
Weekends of rain resulted in a "fair" summer of business at Green's Bike Rentals off the Wildwood boardwalk, according to co-owner Jim Lombardo.
Lombardo said it didn't help that the July 4 holiday landed on a Wednesday. People had one day off from work, rather than the chance to turn a weekend into a mini vacation.
And it's Lombardo's opinion that people "aren't vacationing like they used to." Week-long trips aren't as common as in the past, he said.
"As good as this economy is supposed to be, I don't think there's a lot of money floating around where they can just spend it," Lombardo said.
Tim McLoone, owner of McLoone's Restaurants, saw varying financial performances from location to location along the Jersey Shore. On the Asbury Park boardwalk, business increased significantly from last summer, but business was flat at the Sea Bright location and "off a bit" at Pier Village in Long Branch.
McLoone said it's foolish to expect no rain over the summer — July and August are typically the wettest months in New Jersey — but precipitation kept pounding the weekends ... or at least threatened to.
"When you get a forecast that's not accurate, it might as well have happened," McLoone said.
July and August were strong for Barnacle Bill's in Ortley Beach. The restaurant-golf-arcade establishment rarely experiences a "goose egg across the board," co-owner Jo Ann Petruzel said — when it pours, the arcade "usually gets slammed."
And the unofficial end of summer provided one final financial boost for the business that will close for the season on Sunday. On Labor Day, when Barnacle Bill's would typically close shop around 8 p.m., the customers hung around this year until close to midnight.
And the next day, the off-season was truly underway; visitors were few and far between.
"It was as if a switch had been turned off," Petruzel said. "It's really, really quiet."