MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Weekends in the city are getting busier and local businesses are working to keep up with customer demand.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says many were not expecting an uptick in visits until after Easter and are now working to hire seasonal help.
Staff at Hook & Barrel say since Valentine’s Day weekend, business has been nonstop.
“Because we’ve been so busy our staff is working overtime and we really want to eliminate that so they have time to spend with their families,” Owner Heidi Vukov said.
Vukov says in years passed she would have had stacks of applications by the end of March, but this year pickings are slim. Applications from locals are few and far between. Vukov says she’s started marketing and recruiting from out of state.
“We have plenty of jobs here at the beach and who wouldn’t want to live at the beach? So we’re actually advertising all over. We’re not just advertising in the local market. We’re advertising really up the east coast and further inland,” said Vukov.
The hiring shortage is also impacting beach service businesses.
Lack’s Beach Service says it currently has 80 contracted lifeguards to work this summer, but need 30 to 40 more to confidently serve beaches.
“Hiring for the summer has been quite difficult,” said general manager Weslyn Lack-Chickering.
Lack-Chickering says she’s hopeful European travel restrictions will be lifted by the end of the month and J1 students will be able to fill seasonal positions.
If enough staff isn’t hired, lifeguards will monitor longer stretches of the ocean with support.
“If I don’t have a lifeguard every city block, I’m going to have a beach attendant by that lifeguard to ensure that guard is watching the water and not focusing on the equipment,” said Lack-Chickering.
Businesses say the lack of applications from the local workforce is concerning.
The MBCOC says it’s working to help fill the gap by hosting job fairs and recruiting from high schools.
“We are working very quickly with the school system to see what we can do to bring those folks into the workforce as well,” said MBCOC CEO and president Karen Riordan.