Price gouging likely factor in overnight hike in gas prices

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Gas prices are up nearly 10 cents in the last week, according to AAA, in what many feel was an overnight price hike.

While the average cost of gas is still significantly less than prices at this time last year, drivers say the increase still pains their pockets.

“It’s harder to fill your car up because at the same time you still got to buy groceries, you got to pay your rent, you’ve got to do everything else,” commuter Gary Miller said.

The brunt of the increase did happen overnight, according to AAA. Prices shot up nine cents in less than 24 hours.

Southwest Florida drivers noticed and some of them said they paused at the pump.

“I went to fill up and it was about 2.09, what yesterday?” said driver Lauren Bradley. “Normally I get plus and when I saw the prices I said ‘No, I’m going to do regular.’ The prices are way too high.”

Drivers in Charlotte County have reported seeing prices as high as $2.39, which beat out Thursday’s national average of $2.32, according to AAA. Lee and Collier counties drivers have reported on that prices are as high as $2.49.

A spokesperson from AAA said analysts are surprised at the recent price hike. There could be many factors contributing to the increase, but AAA’s best theory is a price gouging: one gas station or company raised its prices, tipping off a chain reaction of higher fuel costs.

The surge has AAA evaluating where prices have peaked and estimating when they will begin to fall. Many drivers said they are waiting for relief.

“I normally fill the tank but today I only put in $25. I’m like ‘Nope, I’ll just risk it hoping the prices will come back down,'” Lauren Bradley said.

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