Summer is still several uncertain months away, but the shaky economy is already reshaping family vacations on North Carolina's coast.
Reservations for beach home rentals are off in many places. Some people are dropping the idea altogether, while others are shortening their stays, downsizing to smaller digs or settling for a house farther from the water.
"We're seeing shorter stays and partial weeks," said Cori Davies, marketing director for Sun Realty, which has seven offices on the Outer Banks. "People are kind of restructuring their vacations."
And insuring them. The vacation policies traditionally bought as a hedge against North Carolina's hurricanes are suddenly popular, Davies said, for another reason: They refund the rental deposit if you lose your job before vacation time.
Those who reserve a beach house a year in advance typically must deposit 50 percent of the rent by January. This winter, the number who backed out before they had to pay was up in some places, but not in others. The real difference, said Anthony Fletcher, general manager of Midgett Realty on Hatteras Island, was the reasons some gave for pulling out.
"Lots of the cancellations we're getting are more personal," he said. "It's not that they just decided not to come or picked another house, but they're saying things like, 'We wanted to come, but a couple that was in our party, the husband lost his job.' "
Some are canceling reservations so they can switch to a home that costs less, he said.
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