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Brisk Business at the Beach
October 2008 | by Jon Edelbrock

With the September Equinox and summer break behind us, we can adequately analyze the attendance, behavior, and economics of our small beach community this past summer. While important numbers on revenue at our local hotels, shops, and Thoroughbred Club have been published, it is also important to explore the numbers and trends observed at the beach and their relationship to economic developments as well as the summer alcohol ban. 

The obvious and general consensus on our US economy is that it’s in an incredibly poor state of repair. Recent reports show that Del Mar businesses certainly haven’t been spared. Local sales-tax revenue, hotel occupancy, spending, racetrack attendance, and gambling dollars wagered are all down and undoubtedly the results of a slumping housing market and high unemployment numbers. 

Despite discouraging economic indicators such as high commodity prices, declining durable goods sales, and a slow travel season, attendance numbers at Del Mar beach remained steady and have even shown a slight increase during evening hours. These trends are evident in spite of the recent municipal beach alcohol ban.

While average daily attendance numbers remained at the same level of the past few summers, Lifeguards also observed crowds later into the evening prompting a greater number of swimmers and ocean-related rescues after 6 pm. In years past, crowds after 6 pm would generally dissipate quickly leaving very few attendees, especially large groups of families, by sunset.  

With stagnant wages and lower employment numbers affecting many Americans’ abilities to keep up with inflation, the beach remains a viable option and perhaps even alternative to costly travel and entertainment. After all, enjoyment of our local parks and beaches continues to be a bargain with a relatively low cost for those who come to our local environs.  

Additionally, many locals and visitors have indicated that more people are choosing to enjoy the beach with their families later into the evening because of less alcohol-related party activity. While this opinion and many others are viable, Lifeguards have certainly enjoyed handling fewer altercations and incidents that escalate to the level of requiring additional enforcement resources.

Despite the lackluster economy and our recent summer alcohol ban, attendance and activity at our local beach remain healthy and spirited, making it a valuable public space worthy of maintaining and protecting for the commons to enjoy.

Jon Edelbrock is a Community Services and Lifeguard Sergeant.



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