At the beach resorts along the Maryland and Delaware coast, bereft of the sun for almost a week, people are of two minds.

"I feel like a piece of mold," said Anne FauntLeRoy, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. "But I'm sure the merchants are deliriously happy."

With the clouds hanging low and a chill wind singing across the waves, sunbathers have little to do but shop, dine in restaurants and -- in short -- spend money.

The front hovering for six days over the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to New England with unseasonably cool 70-degree temperatures has not been without a silver lining for some of those who depend on vacationers for their livelihood.

Lines for matinee tickets wind down the sidewalks outside the movie theaters at the shore. Bar tabs are running longer this week. And the cash registers are ringing.

"People are buying anything and everything," said Jim Gregg, a salesman at Carlton's clothing store in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where owner Robert Derrickson estimates sales are up by 20 percent in rainy weather.

The week, while a dreary drag for those who planned to polish off a suntan, has not been astounding for August, meteorologically speaking. Last year, rain fell in Rehoboth Beach on one out of every three days. And the National Weather Service reports that temperatures, though about 12 to 14 degrees cooler than normal, have dipped nowhere near the all-time low of 49 degrees, a record set in 1890 and repeated in 1934 and 1986.

The month has been wet -- 6.9 inches of rainfall compared with the usual 4.4 inches -- but again, no records have been set. More than six inches fell on Aug. 23, 1933, alone, while the August of 1928 was submerged under 14.41 inches.

In Washington and the environs, community swimming pools have closed early, if they have opened at all this week, and commuters have groused about the continual gray skies over the Capital Beltway. Some have smiled inwardly to know that at least they are not on vacation.

At the beach, vacationers, rather than checking out early, are using their time to look at property for sale, real estate agents said.

"There has been an awful lot of activity," said Angie Watkins, a sales agent for Anderson Stokes real estate in Rehoboth Beach. "Business is always at least twice as good when the sun isn't shining."

With hotel occupancy rates still near capacity, few people, it seems, have packed up and gone home. Anderson Stokes agents, who manage the lion's share of vacation rentals in Rehoboth Beach, report losing three or four customers out of an estimated 100 and at least one of those left because of a cut toe.

"There's always someone who gets bored and says, 'I'd rather clean my rug,' " said FauntLeRoy, "but most people stay and make the best of it. This weekend you'd still be hardpressed to find a hotel room in Ocean City."