Hot temperatures, busy beaches and heavy traffic volume translated into a profitable Memorial Day weekend, business and tourism officials said.
“The numbers were extraordinary,” Holly Kisby, general manager of Shriver’s salt water taffy and fudge store in Ocean City said of Memorial Day sales. “It builds your confidence for the summer.”
Shriver was among several businesses in the region that reported high sales following the long Memorial Day weekend. Most attributed the brisk business to the high temperatures and sunny conditions, which drew visitors to the shore.
“You couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Kisby said.
Temperatures were in the mid-80s Friday and Saturday and reached 90 degrees on Sunday and Monday in Atlantic City, according to the National Weather Service.
Total traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway by the Pleasantville toll plaza increased by about 4 percent compared with the same holiday weekend last year, according to the South Jersey Transportation Authority. Toll-paying traffic believed to be coming in and out of Atlantic City rose by 2 percent and other parts of the shore by 6 percent when compared with last year, according to the authority.
Sunday appeared to have been the busiest day in the long weekend, with visitors hitting the beach Saturday and then frequenting businesses the following day.
“They run to the beach the first day,” said Michele Gillian, head of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, adding that several beaches opened over the weekend. “We had record crowds.”
In Atlantic City, the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel was among several hospitality establishments that sold out, according to the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority. Resorts Casino Hotel also reported an increase in its room revenue of more than 50 percent from last year, according to officials.
The city was among one of the most searched hotel destinations in the lead-up to Memorial Day, according to kayak.com, which said Atlantic City was the third-most searched destination on the site. It was ranked at No. 10 last year, according to the popular travel search site. Las Vegas and New York City maintained their rankings as the first- and second-most searched destinations, according to kayak.com.
The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, which had to delay its opening until last week, estimated its crowd at 75,000, including President Barack Obama’s daughters, who came to Atlantic City with first lady Michelle Obama to see Beyonce in concert at Revel, according to owner Tony Catanoso.
“The first kids were out on some of the rides,” he said of the Obamas’ daughters, Sasha and Malia.
In the past, Steel Pier has been able to draw well over 100,000 people during a holiday weekend. This year, several of the Steel Pier’s high-capacity rides were not ready for the public, which kept attendance levels lower than in the past, Catanoso said. Those rides should be ready this week or later in June, he said.
“It was overall one of the best Memorial Day weekends,” Catanoso said. “Had we had those rides, it would have been our best year.”
In Wildwood, Morey’s Pier had large crowds, although owner Jack Morey said he did not have any statistics with which to make a comparison.
As temperatures began to rise, the pier’s newly renovated water park drew many visitors, Morey said.
“For our water park, Monday was the busiest of the three days,” he said.
Local establishments, such as Maynard’s Cafe in Margate, also saw crowds starting Friday, according to owner Steve Troiano.
“It was probably the best we’ve had in a long, long time,” he said.
Troiano said he believed many visitors seemed to stay longer than in the past. He attributed that to weather forecasters calling for a heat wave Sunday through Monday.
“If they’d predicted rain on Monday, they may have left,” he said.
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