Red tide suffocating beach businesses in Sarasota Co.

Red tide is taking a toll on marine life as well as beach business - especially stores and shops along the coast of Sarasota County.

Business owners there say fewer people heading to the beach means fewer customers for them.

The sun’s out and the doors are open, but restaurant customers are few and far between.

“It’s very hard to get people to sit outside. It’s very hard to get people to sit inside because of the smell and the cough,” restaurant manager Kristina Krasinski told FOX 13 News.

As kids head back to school beach business owners say a slight slowdown is normal but this year is different.

“Literally in a week it just went to half the sales that we were doing,” Krasinski said.

Visit Sarasota County sent out surveys this week to 450 local businesses. So far nearly a quarter have mailed back their responses and 90 percent reported losses due to the red tide outbreak.

“When you see a red tide outbreak like this it almost always invariably has a negative impact on local business here,” explained Kevin Cooper with the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

But down the street – it’s not all doom and gloom. One store owner said vacationers are still spending money.

“We were a little bit concerned about the red tide situation but it’s almost like we have a captive audience because they don’t really want to spend much time at the beach. It’s not really pleasant right now so they’re shopping and they’re doing other fun things,” Kathie Hermann said.

The concern lies in how long red tide will stick around. There’s nothing to indicate red tide will give us a break anytime soon.

USF scientists say it could be months before it recedes.