Impact of high gas prices; downward trend still forecast

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Woman filling up her car at a gas station. Credit: WINK News

If you have to fill up on gas Tuesday morning, you might pay more; in some places, gas just went up yet again. Economists say a downward trend is still expected, but in the meantime, it’s money out of your pocket and out of Southwest Florida businesses.

Businesses say it’s putting a strain on them because gas prices are still relatively high. Imagine how much you feel the impacts of the prices with just one vehicle and multiply that by dozens for businesses with fleets of cars and trucks to fill up. While we have seen the average price for regular gas drop below $4 per gallon this week, prices are still hurting sectors like construction, in which companies have many vehicles on the road every day.

John Tobler, president and co-founder of Tobler Construction in Fort Myers, says he has around 15 vehicles to fill up and is paying more for supplies because his suppliers have to pay more for gas, too. He says all of this means he has to raise prices for his customers.

“I’m spending twice as much money for gas and, of course, that affects my bottom line, which, in turn… I charge customers more for service that typically I wouldn’t charge more for, Tobler said. “We’ve got to do it because we’ve got to stay in business, but we’re not happy about it.”

Tobler says he has had to charge customers between 20% to 25% more for services because of gas.

Florida Gulf Coast University economist Dr. Victor Claar says high gas prices impact almost every sector, from the plumber who comes to fix your sink to grocery stores like Publix, so no one is exempt. According to AAA, the national average has gone up to $4.10 per gallon of regular. Here in Florida, it’s a little cheaper, but not by much: In the Sunshine State, on average, you can expect to pay around $4.07 per gallon.

Claar says we should continue to see prices trend downward, especially since the Biden administration has begun tapping into the country’s strategic reserve for oil.

“Normally, when prices of anything go up, but especially things like gasoline or commodities, it’s normally for one of two reasons: either a supply disruption or just a lot of uncertainty, and it seems like prices have fallen lately just because we’ve reduced a lot of uncertainty in terms of where we’ll be getting oil from, how it will be refined, and who our suppliers will happen to be over the shorter term,” Claar said. “I think a lot of the recent drop isn’t because the supply chain is better now, I think it’s because we have a better understanding of how things are going to be over the next few months.”

Claar says folks struggling to make ends meet should try to economize on trips, carpool and take fewer trips overall to avoid having to come to the pump as much until prices level off completely.

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