Gas Prices Put Chill On Vacation Season

It's summertime in Long Beach Island, N.J., and the living isn't easy.

Brutal gas prices and a stingy mortgage market add up to heavy weather for home sales and rentals.

"Our rentals are down about 10 percent and our sales are down about 15 percent over last year," realtor Donn O'Brien told CBS News correspondent Tony Guida.

Even the best rentals are hurting. A four-bedroom house right on the ocean that's usually booked solid from Memorial Day through Labor Day is not this week - and that's costing the owner $5,000.

"I just had a person who called me a few minutes ago and said 'Next week is open, get anything you can,'" said O'Brien.

Retailers are suffering too, with fewer shoppers spending fewer dollars. At Hand's department store in Beach Haven, owner John Turner is worried.

"Ninety-two percent of our sales are in the six months from Easter to Columbus Day," said Turner.

Halfway through the season, said Turner, summer sales are down at least four percent. The story is similar elsewhere on the eastern seaboard.

A motel owner on Cape Cod reports fewer bookings this June and fewer sightings of American vacationers. But Canadians and Europeans are coming, drawn by the anemic dollar.

In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one realtor spoke of a summer slump. Even the fabled Hamptons of Eastern Long Island are not immune - a prominent realtor there told CBS News the number of home sales is off 35 percent and summer rentals are down by 25 percent.

The kitchen at Howard's Restaurant in Beach Haven, usually humming over the weekend, is not. Sales are down 20 percent - symptomatic of a wider problem, said manager Kevin Sparks.

"My produce comes from the Philly market and that market is off too, which means the whole region is off," Sparks said.

The culprit?

"It's gas, gas and gas," said Turner. "You know $4 a gallon kills people."
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