With August just around the corner, the Cape Region is about to hit the homestretch of summer 2023, and, for the most part, businesses are reporting a good summer.
During a commissioner meeting July 21, Crosswinds Motel owner Dale Lomas, representing the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged hotel stays from Five Points outside Lewes and points farther south are down from last year. However, he said, there could be a couple of reasons: there are more overall hotel options, and there seems to be a leveling of post-pandemic travel.
Lomas said the issues are not exclusive to the Cape Region, as it is also happening in New Jersey and other places.
“This year, there’s been a settling back to normal, so to speak,” said Lomas.
In advance of the meeting, Lomas said he spoke with owners of long-standing businesses; he said they’re reporting a good summer. One business owner said they’re doing well, while the other business owner said they had a bad June, but they are making up for it in July, he said.
Fellow business owners and operators confirmed what Lomas said.
Mike Dickinson, SoDel Concepts president, said every summer is different, but this summer is tracking similar to the pre-pandemic summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019. There’s a clear buildup, a really busy portion and then the anticipated slowdown as schools start in nearby states, he said.
Dickinson said one difference between pre-pandemic summers and this summer is consistency of customers. He speculated the change could be that people are doing less of the Saturday-to-Saturday rental and more of a Thursday-to-Monday rental.
“The peaks are very, very high,” said Dickinson, who has been in the area since the late 1990s and with SoDel since the early 2000s. “Anecdotally, Saturday nights this summer have been as busy as I’ve ever seen.”
The seasonality has changed too, said Dickinson, which affects the company’s bottom line positively.
“At this point, [Rehoboth Beach] is a three-and-a-half-season town,” said Dickinson.
Gus & Gus co-owner Bill Svolis said he’s heard some businesses aren’t doing well, but his is doing OK. Not great, but OK, he said.
Svolis was hesitant to make any predictions for how the rest of summer will go.
“I don’t want to jinx anything,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see how things stand at the end of summer.”
Rehoboth Cycle Sports owners Katie and Nate Baker said this year is going well. However, said Katie, they’re using this summer as the benchmark for how a typical summer should be.
The Bakers opened their store in March 2020 – weeks before everything shut down. Then all of a sudden there was a mad rush on their store because people were getting outside.
At first, they were concerned about having opened the business, but then there was so much demand, and supply chain issues.
“It was quite the roller coaster,” said Katie.
Sales went way up, but have leveled off, said Nate. But people are visiting because the bike rentals are available, he said.
Looking forward through the rest of the summer, Dickinson said he wants restaurants to stay busy.
“If everybody is busy, then everybody is busy,” said Dickinson. “We want all businesses to be doing well.”