News Column

Customers, Businesses Feel Price Pinch

Feb 21, 2013

Mary Beth Jackson

Michelle Ward, a respiratory therapist who also works in retail, drives 20 to 30 miles a day for work. She says the escalation of gas prices has not escaped her notice.

Ward was putting a few gallons of gas in her Chrysler Pacifica on Wednesday, which was going to cost $3.65 a gallon at Sheetz on Riverside Drive.

"I miss my four-cylinder," she said, reminiscing about a Chevrolet Cavalier she lost in an accident.

She didn't plan to fill the tank.

"They say it's better to fill up," she said. "But if you don't have the money, you don't have the money."

According to GasBuddy (www.gasbuddy.com), a website that lets people log gas prices in their area, a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline ranged from $3.45 to $3.69 in Danville on Wednesday afternoon.

Gas prices have soared 35 cents in the past 30 days in Virginia, according to AAA.

The AAA Fuel Gauge Report stated the average national price Wednesday was $3.75, and reports the price run-up began Jan. 17. The travel club says it attributes the rise to the trend of U.S. refineries performing seasonal maintenance and making the switch-over to summer blend gasoline production earlier in the year.

"This earlier schedule is the choice of refiners and has not come in response to any change to the deadline to complete the transition to summer-blend fuels, which are required in many parts of the country and more expensive to produce," wrote Avery Ash, manager of federal relations for AAA.

If there is any good news, it may be this, Ash said: "While the peak price this spring may approach the 2011 and 2012 highs, AAA continues to expect the high to be lower than both years."

It still hurts, says Louise White, who operates Giles Flowerland and Caterers. She is absorbing the extra cost -- for now. She doesn't want to have to raise her delivery price, which stands at $5 per order in the Danville area.

"It depends on how long it lasts," she said. "If it's just a short-term thing, we'll try to handle it."

White says she will be creative about arranging deliveries, trying to bunch them to save instead of passing the cost to customers.

"I feel like it's going to cut into what people are ordering," she said.

The shop has two minivans, one of which is constantly on the road. Giles Flowerland goes to each area funeral home once or twice a day, she said, plus all her other orders. The shop delivers North Carolina, Chatham, Ringgold and Axton, too.

"We try to keep them filled up," White said. "We don't know what the next day is going to bring."

Arthur Thompson drives about 25 miles a day to and from his job at Goodyear.

"I go home, get back out, the price goes up," he said. "It's always changing. I don't understand it."

At QP on Franklin on Wednesday afternoon, Thompson was filling his Nissan Titan, an eight-cylinder truck. He tries to keep the tank at least half-full. With his job, he said, he has a tough time economizing at the pump.

"I'm locked into it," he said. "I have to go to work."

Regardless, he said, he isn't tempted to think about trading his 6-year-old truck for something more efficient.

"I prefer a big engine," Thompson said.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2013 the Danville Register & Bee (Danville, Va.)


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