NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – Nearly all regular Jersey shore visitors plan to go "down the shore" this summer as usual, despite the havoc wreaked by Superstorm Sandy, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Most – 64 percent – say they will spend about as much time as in summers past, while 13 percent say they will make longer stays. But 20 percent plan shorter visits, and in a few cases (2 percent) no visit at all. Just under two-thirds of the 22 percent who cut back say Sandy is the reason.
Besides those who live there, just under 60 percent of New Jerseyans typically visit the shore during summer, with most usually staying a week or less. Thirty-six percent are day-trippers, 21 percent visit up to three days and another 19 percent stay between four and seven days. One-quarter of shore-goers spend more than a week, including 8 percent who spend the entire summer.
About 30 percent of visitors who stay four days to a week are planning to cut back. Only 5 percent of these visitors plan to spend more time. Among other visitors, the percentage planning to spend less time is mostly offset by those who plan to spend more.
“The summer tourist season seems surprisingly stable, though perhaps down slightly based on current plans,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While some regulars will cut back due to Sandy, most expect to spend as much or more time than ever enjoying the Jersey shore. Even those cutting back are still more likely to visit than to stay away entirely.”
Atlantic City (11 percent) and Seaside Heights – home to MTV’s Jersey Shore – (10 percent) are respondents’ top destinations, followed by Wildwood, Long Beach Island, Point Pleasant and Ocean City.
Results are from a poll of 796 adult New Jerseyans conducted statewide among landline and cell phone households from Jan. 30 – Feb. 3 with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
How long will visitors stay?
While the large majority of summer shore regulars are planning a trip, visits may be shorter than usual. About 70 percent who normally stay more than a week still plan to visit that long, while 20 percent will make shorter stays and 7 percent are unsure of their plans. Only 2 percent of these long-term visitors will skip the shore completely. Of those who generally stay between 4 days and a week, 28 percent plan to spend fewer than four days and 3 percent have no plans to visit. But 10 percent expect to stay longer.
More than half (54 percent) of short-term visitors (up to three days) plan to take their usual vacation. Twenty percent will stay longer and 22 percent will spend less time. Almost three in 10 regular day-trippers actually plan to spend more time at the shore this year.
“Taken together, the evidence suggests the typical visitors will spend less time, rather than more time at the shore, but not by much,” said Redlawsk. “In-state tourism might decline, but not as much as might be expected after Sandy. The lure of the Jersey Shore is strong, and most respondents do not plan to let the storm interfere with their regular summer vacation beach routines.”
Just under two-thirds of all visitors expecting to cut back cite Sandy as the reason for reducing their planned shore visits. Those personally affected by the storm are nearly twice as likely to spend less time at the beach this summer.
Residents who believe New Jersey has not returned to normal since Sandy are five points more likely to spend less time at the shore than those who think the state is back to its pre-Sandy condition (20 percent versus 15 percent). Likewise, those who favor coastline reassessments over immediate rebuilding for summer are nine points more likely to cut back on shore visits.
The who, what, where and when of the Jersey Shore
While most shore county residents either visit (54 percent) or live at the shore (30 percent), south Jersey/Philadelphia area residents are the next most likely to visit, at 64 percent. About 40 percent of New Jerseyans from other areas do not typically go to the beach.
Parents (70 percent) are much more likely to frequent New Jersey beaches than those without children (54 percent). The shore is also most popular among middle-aged groups: 65 percent of 30 to 49 year-olds visit, as do 62 percent of those 50 to 64. Only 55 percent of those 18 to 29 and 44 percent of those 65 and older visit. Garden Staters in the lowest income bracket are the least likely to be shore-goers (49 percent).
Day trips to the shore are most popular across the board. By a 2-to-1 margin, the childless are more likely than parents to stay the entire summer. While younger visitors are more likely to take shorter trips, older vacationers are more likely to stay longer. Well-to-do New Jerseyans are apt to take longer trips.
Atlantic City and Seaside Heights are most popular with shore visitors, followed by Wildwood, Long Beach Island (LBI), Point Pleasant and Ocean City. Urbanites (21 percent) and south Jerseyans (19 percent) are most likely to enjoy Atlantic City, but suburbanites favor LBI (12 percent). Exurban residents choose Point Pleasant (10 percent), and those in shore counties who don’t live at the shore prefer Ocean City (9 percent). Visiting parents are most likely to go to Atlantic City (15 percent) or Point Pleasant (10 percent), while those without children favor Seaside Heights (12 percent) and Wildwood (11 percent).
Atlantic City is most popular with those 65 and older (23 percent) and with household incomes under $50,000 (19 percent). Seaside Heights is most popular with the under-30 crowd (21 percent) and lowest income bracket (21 percent). Wildwood and LBI are most popular among the youngest age group and those 50 to 64, who also favor Point Pleasant. Ocean City is also a favorite destination for the oldest shore visitors.
Media Contact: David Redlawsk
732-932-9384, ext. 285