WISCASSET — Small companies in downtown Wiscasset are feeling the sting of misplaced income, however aren’t doing as poorly as they anticipated after a vacationer season hobbled by COVID-19 restrictions.
Debbie Gagnon, co-owner of Pink’s Eats, mentioned this season has been taxing on the landmark vacation spot for lobster rolls, which closed for the season final Saturday. She mentioned income has been down from the additional prices of COVID-19-related supplies and the smaller flock of out-of-state vacationers.
“I really feel that each one eating places and all within the hospitality business are struggling, whether or not you might be seasonal or year-round,” mentioned Gagnon. “With the restrictions, we’re all having a really robust yr. … I feel all of us simply need to get up from this nightmare known as COVID-19.”
Gagnon declined to estimate how a lot income was misplaced this summer season however mentioned she needed to open over a month later than regular, which lower into earnings. On prime of that, prices akin to hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes for visitors, masks for workers and visitors, and hiring a contractor to construct a wider counter to maintain patrons a secure distance from staff, ate into her income.
Greg Uthoff, co-owner of Birch House Furnishings and Items, known as Pink’s Eats “a lightweight swap for downtown” due to the elevated foot site visitors he notices when it opens for the season.
Like Gagnon, Uthoff mentioned enterprise has slipped this yr, however declined to offer an estimate of income misplaced. He mentioned final summer season, wherever from 80 to 100 folks would go to the shop every day. This summer season, roughly 60 to 80 folks visited every day.
“It has been a tricky yr for everybody, however we’re definitely doing higher than we thought we’d be doing,” he mentioned.
Uthoff mentioned he seen a rise in tourism in July and August, that are normally the shop’s busiest months, after Gov. Janet Mills lifted COVID-19 restrictions for a number of states within the Northeast.
Davison mentioned the quantity of leaf peepers is similar to years previous, which helped companies make up for the injury COVID-19 brought about within the spring.
“On common, I’d estimate companies are down about 40% this yr at finest,” he mentioned. “We’re doing about 60% of the enterprise we’d do in a standard yr, however we received’t know for certain till the tip of the yr.”
Maine’s COVID-19 mandate requires out-of-state guests to quarantine for 14 days after coming into Maine or take a look at unfavourable for COVID-19 not than 72 hours previous to coming into the state. Vermont and New Hampshire have been exempted from this mandate efficient June 26, as they’d equally low COVID-19 instances. Guests from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have been exempted from the journey mandate as of July 3, then Massachusetts adopted efficient Sept. 23.
Visitors counts from the Maine Division of Transportation mirror this enhance.
In accordance with Paul Merrill, Maine DOT, site visitors on Route 1 in Wiscasset was down by over 32,000 vehicles weekly, a 24% lower, within the first week of June in comparison with that point final yr. Within the first week of July this yr, site visitors was down by 18%, or over 24,000 vehicles weekly, in comparison with final yr.
Statewide site visitors dropped by about 50% in late March and early April, Merrill mentioned. Since then, it has slowly rebounded, however statewide vehicle-miles traveled stay down between 5% and 10% in comparison with final yr. This week, statewide site visitors is down 5.9% when in comparison with the identical week in 2019.
Chip Davison, chairman of the Wiscasset Space Chamber of Commerce, mentioned native companies reported extra patrons from Maine than they sometimes see, which helped many keep afloat when out-of-state have been barred.
“By July, August and September, companies had a pleasant uptick in vacationers from out of state,” mentioned Davison. “Massachusetts was an enormous participant to be lacking they usually have been the final ones to be given entry to the state and that actually harm our companies. As soon as the Massachusetts restriction was lifted, there was a resurgence of people that got here to take pleasure in Wiscasset.”
Kasey McNamara, proprietor of In The Clover boutique on Route 1, mentioned she noticed extra folks from Maine and New England than she anticipated.
“We sometimes see folks from the West Coast or Texas, however I didn’t see anybody from the West Coast this summer season, it was actually solely New Englanders,” she mentioned.
“The primary six months have been form of a wash as a result of we needed to be closed for 2 months then issues actually didn’t begin taking place till mid-June,” mentioned McNamara. “I lowered my expectation and thought this was going to be a horrible yr, nevertheless it hasn’t been. It has been an excellent yr, and we’re working onerous to attempt to maintain that momentum going.”