Paced by a strong summer season that concluded with a blistering September undeterred by a hurricane, Wrightsville Beach parking revenues for the summer of 2019 were stronger than any year on record, suggesting the town’s parking rate increase earlier this year did little to deter visitors. However, whether the town’s growth in parking revenue is based on more visitors, favorable weather or higher parking rates is unclear.
The 2019 summer months of July, August and September generated $1.67 million in revenue for Wrightsville Beach, nearly half of the total amount of $3.41 million the town generated in all of 2018. At nearly $604,000 in revenue, July 2019 was Wrightsville Beach’s strongest month on record in terms of total revenue. This July’s numbers eclipsed the July 2016 parking revenue numbers that produced almost $612,000 for the town when the parking rate was $2.50 an hour.
However, while the July 2019 parking numbers show a 13 percent jump from July 2016, the $3 an hour parking rate is 20 percent higher than the 2016 rate. July’s parking revenues were about 19 percent higher than July 2018, nearly mirroring the 20 percent rate increase.
And though July’s record-setting revenues might be due to rate and enforcement increases, the September 2019 parking revenues of more than $402,000 indicate an uptick in visitors, as that months’ total was at least 30 percent stronger than any September on record, taking into account the 20 percent rise in hourly parking costs.
Parking revenue totals from March, April and May 2019 also outpace the 20 percent rate increase from the prior year, with March pulling in 47 percent more revenue than 2018 and May’s total of $590,000 in revenue producing a 56 jump from May 2018 totals.
Parking revenues were strong despite a state-issued mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 4 -5, resulting in no revenue collection. But three sunny weekend days of highs of nearly 90 degrees weather followed in a month where temperatures dropped to the 70s only twice, but reached the 90s three times.
Earlier this year, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen raised parking rates to $3 an hour, up from $2.50 an hour. It was the town’s first rate increase since 2015, however, the town has increased enforcement times and added new metered lots during that period.