“There is nothing that has not increased.”

OCEAN CITY, NJ — Price hikes raced up the boardwalk the other day as visitors tallied up the rising cost of pizza, not to mention the little cotton candy-flavored Polish popsicle, adding just a small insult to the injury of yet another chilly day in May.

“The whole pie was like $25,” said Jarrett Gibbs of Long Island, explaining why his group of friends from Penn State just bought a few slices of Manco & Manco. (It’s actually $24.15 there).

Gibbs carried a modest blue popsicle, $6.50, as an entree. The cost of gas for a trip from New York? A touchy these days at around $65.

But hey, isn’t the Shore supposed to be a bit overpriced anyway? Some of those interviewed recently in Ocean City said they already expected to pay a bit more to shop on the coast. What’s left of Airbnb inventory for a family of four currently averages $714 per night in Ocean City.

That kind of thinking can save Shore store owners too much inflationary seaside outrage. Last year, their problem was supply chain (and staff). Would there be boogie boards in stock or would they be stuck in shipping containers?

The big concern this year is cost, says Wes Kazmarck, owner of the Surf Mall in Ocean City and another store in Sea Isle, and head of Ocean City Boardwalk Merchants. (And the staff).

Will people buy a $60 beach chair? That’s what Kazmarck says he should charge, because it’s costing him $30 a chair this year.

“There’s nothing that hasn’t gone up,” Kazmarck said.

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Dairy products cost more, as does sugar. This means the fudge is ready. Without forgetting the other essential of the Shore: real estate. The cooking oil hikes could affect everything from fried avocado ($7) to chicken tenders ($10 a cup) to French fries ($6 for a 16-ounce cup). The Margate Bridge Private Toll has been reduced from $2.00 to $2.25. And pickleball! A basic Stone Harbor summer pass is $250 this year, up from $90 previously.

Garbage services soared, leaving one town, North Wildwood, to cut ties with a private company they said had tried to heavily weaponize the town into paying higher rates. Mayor Patrick Rosenello said the hedge fund-owned company said that if the city doesn’t agree to immediate rate hikes, “things are going to get bad.” He left trash in the streets.

North Wildwood has changed supplier. “Listen: this is costing us more than our public tender contract, but less than what the contractor demanded,” Rosenello said. “We are really nervous about the increase in diesel fuel. Our replenishment of the beach is high fuel consumption. We have delayed submitting a few other contracts because we know the prices are very high. We are delaying road reconstruction until the fall.

And could that cool Shashibo shape-shifting thing for sale at Air Circus on the Ocean City Boardwalk really cost $25? (Yes, even on Amazon). But in the real world of the Boardwalk, the folks at Air Circus were willing to trade one down to $20 cash (thanks!). So you never know. At least somewhere a price has gone down.

The Shore just had a huge season in 2021, propelled by people who were flexible through distance learning and remote working, others who had a little cash from government money in case pandemic and the lack of other travel options. People were coming down the Shore in droves.

According to the Lloyd Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism, 45.2 million visitors came to the Jersey Shore in 2021, a 16% increase from 2020. They spent $20.8 billion, an increase of 28.9% compared to 2020.

So what’s a few extra bucks for a whole pie?

With gas prices so high, Cape May County has brought back its old marketing campaign from 2009: One Tank of Gas Away. (Last year was the pandemic-inspired “Exciting Places, Open Spaces.”)

“We dusted that one off,” Diane Wieland, director of tourism for Cape May County, said at the recent Shorecast event held at the University of Stockton. “Every dollar they spend will impact discretionary spending. They will change their budget when they get here. You must eat, but you don’t have to eat three meals a day. You don’t need to go out for expensive dinner parties.

Oliver Cook, an economist at Stockton, predicted another robust summer, but probably not outperforming 2021’s performance. “I think it might not be as robust as last summer,” Cook said. “There were very unique features: so many pent-up savings and pent-up demand. Lots of fiscal stimulus is feeding household balance sheets.

With 2022 inflation, he said, “It’s starting to become a question for many families.”

A recent report from New Jersey realtors found that the median sale price in March in Atlantic County was $347,500, up 22.8% from a year earlier. In Ocean County, the median selling price was $476,000, up 14.7% from 2021. And in Cape May County, the median selling price was $481,500, up increase of 18.9%.

Staff shortages last summer have driven up wages with seasonal jobs on the boardwalk offering upwards of $15 and $16 an hour. At Adventure Golf in Ocean City, managers were hired for up to $21.50 an hour.

But finding employees somewhere they can afford to live is another consequence of escalating prices.

With so many new owners and high selling prices, Avalon realtor Ann Delaney says rental prices have also increased, sometimes by several thousand dollars a week, and even long-term renters are find themselves overpriced in the places they have gone for years. .

But new buyers have put their homes up for rent, so there is still inventory, despite a rush in bookings last summer.

She thinks real estate prices in Shore have probably peaked for now.

“We’ve had some pretty aggressive rate increases,” she said. ” It was hard. It cost some people dearly.

Atlantic City is seeing the effects of rising prices on the Shore, with investors, second home owners and Airbnb hosts buying and renovating homes.

“There’s no inventory,” said Atlantic City realtor Kim Turner-McDuffie, who said she recently closed a home in the Gardner’s Basin area near the entrance for 255,000 $, in an area where similar homes were selling for $150,000 six months ago.

“In Gardner’s Basin, not a single home is for sale right now,” she said. “They all run there if one of them is for sale. They come from out of state, turning them into Airbnbs.

As for Kazmarck, he wonders whether to even pay $30 wholesale to bring beach chairs and watch them not sell for $60. Instead, it stocks more beach towels for people to laze about, old school.

“I bought a lot of towels this year thinking people were going to say, I’m just going to take a towel,” he said. “They went from $12.99 to $14.99. Or $14.99 to $19.99. »

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