NJ COVID update: Jersey Shore looks for summer rebound, even amid pandemic

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The Jersey Shore is part of the backbone of the state's economy, and after a brutal year for businesses, things are looking up for the summer of 2021.

The early numbers indicate it's going to be a banner season, which is great news for those who have booked already.

But it's also a warning for those who have yet to kickstart the summer rental search.

"It's earlier than most," said James Ward, with Keller Williams Realty. "Usually we have this availability more like April and May, but what's happened was we've got maybe 30-40% increase in repeat bookings form last summer. Add to that the people that canceled last summer and are now coming back this year, and then you add the people that are not getting on airplanes or cruise ships. And it's creating quite a supply and demand issue for the prime rates."

COVID concerns kept some shops from opening last year, all while tourists were getting used to the idea of masks and social distancing protocols on the boardwalk, in restaurants, and on the sand.

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Ward says he's hearing that shore businesses are opening -- and optimistic -- as shore rentals are being snapped up during the peak summer weeks.

"Summer of 2021 is going to be a banner year for summer rentals," he said. "We're probably in the 90% fully booked, if you're looking at the prime July and August prime season."

The hopeful signs of COVID vaccines being administered to millions and the CDC saying those who are vaccinated can relax some restrictions -- combined with a year of cabin fever -- has many looking forward to a summer at the shore.

Ward expects it to be a good one for vacationers.

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It is unclear what COVID restrictions will remain by the time summer kicks off, but Ward says it seems many people still are not ready to travel too far from home for summer fun."

Prime week slots are going fast, but Ward says there is so much more up for grabs.

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