‘Too soon to tell’ about effect of oil on local economy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 8, 2010

For local convenience stores dependent on beach travelers, it’s too early to tell how much their bottom line will be affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Just a few short weeks ago, merchants were looking forward to the summer months when travelers make their annual pilgrimages to beaches in Pensacola, Destin, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

Now those shores are becoming sticky with oil after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and local gas pumps are devoid of the tourists normally found filling their gas tanks.

Roy Mohon, owner of the Gitty Up-N-Go chain with stores from Red Level to Florala, said, “if things get really bad, I’d say I’m looking at a 10 to 15 percent reduction in profits for June. But all-in-all, it’s really too early to tell.”

Mohon said May’s profits weren’t affected by the oil spill.

“June is a little different, though,” he said. “We’ve been busy, but that’s mainly because of the way the calendar fell. You had Memorial Day weekend fall right before the third of the month, which is our busiest time.

“Then looking ahead, you’ve got five weekends in this month too,” he said. “That’s going to make a difference in sales, which means (totals) might not look as bad.

“Plus add to that, if locals aren’t leaving here and going to the beach, they’re staying and shopping, and that’s going to help our business,” he said. “There is plus and minuses to it all. If things stay the way they are, the summer could end up being OK, but like I said, it’s just too early to tell.”