Businesses see slow start to July 4 week - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Businesses see slow start to July 4 week

Meridian Plaza saw fewer customers week leading up to July 4 than expected Meridian Plaza saw fewer customers week leading up to July 4 than expected
Occupancy rate predicted to be 96% July 4 weekend Occupancy rate predicted to be 96% July 4 weekend

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Grand Strand was expected to be at 96 percent hotel occupancy this July 4 weekend, according to the Brittain Center for Resort Tourism. However, it's the occupancy rate before and after the holiday that's concerning one hotel.

"This weekend we're full. I think most folks along the Strand are," said Steve Crater, rental manager for Meridian Plaza. "And then next week, a little bit soft."

The week prior to July 4 was also not as busy as Meridian Plaza had hoped. Usually when July 4 lands on a weekend, it attracts more customers.

"We would get people who would take a vacation the week before. Some would take the vacation the week after, so you would get kind of a bump for both weeks," Crater said. "But this year we've kind of been seeing it a little different and didn't get a bump either week."

Crater said it seems like visitors decided to come for only the weekend rather than staying at the hotel for an entire week. The hotel had better luck filling beds once it lowered its minimum night stay down from four nights.

"People are taking shorter vacations these days, so we're thinking maybe they're spreading it out a little bit taking a few days here, a few days there," he said.

Peaches Corner along Ocean Boulevard noticed a slower start to the week of July 4 as well. Manager Coty Carleson said business picked up as of Wednesday.

"Even earlier this morning, I saw the most people I've seen all week walking around looking for breakfast and stuff like that, so it's been a pretty good day so far," Carleson said.

Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals is seeing the opposite trend. All of the properties were booked up surrounding Independence Day weekend, even though check-out or check-in is on the holiday itself.

"Pre-season meetings - we were very concerned about that, but as the reservations started coming in, folks booking the week before and the weekend after that check-in, check-out day, our fears quickly subsided," said Bobby Bruecken, general manager for Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals.

Bruecken said the company has seen a 16 percent increase in bookings this year compared to last year so far. He said advanced bookings between July and December are up 25 percent.

Crater said Meridian Plaza has also seen an uptick in business overall this year, about 6 percent. He's still optimistic about the rest of July, which the Brittain Center for Resort Tourism predicts will be the peak of hotel occupancy rates for the year.

"Weather forecast is good, so we're hoping we're going to see a lot of latecomers," Crater said.

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