Gasoline prices seem to set a new record everyday. The American Automotive Association (AAA) reported the national average was $4.086 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel. Diesel checked in at $4.762 per gallon.
The cost for a single barrel of crude oil has more than doubled in the last year. The consistent price of $140 or more per barrel has driven the prices higher at the pump.
A CNNMoney.com article reports that even though the United States has seen fewer cars on the road recently, many experts feel demand for oil in countries such as China and India will continue to push market prices higher.
On Monday, local gas stations reported prices for 87 octane gasoline just under the national average. Diesel, however, was on par with the rest of the nation at $4.76 a gallon.
Glen Rose residents have already made changes in driving habits to help stretch more mileage out of a single tank of gas.
“I don’t like the price of gas, don’t get me wrong,” said Mike Hay. “But I mostly ride my bike.”
Another gas station customer said he was not a Glen Rose resident and was only passing through town on his way to a funeral. In fact, he said that was the only reason he was out driving.
Dorothy D’Angelo also runs a bakery inside her gas station, the Exxon Tiger Corner. She said people are buying gas, but they are not buying drinks or snacks once they come inside the store.
“Sales are down,” D’Angelo said. “The gas prices have affected inside sales.”
She said people who usually stop in before heading to work are spending their money on gas with very little leftover for breakfast. On average, there has been a $7-8 drop in ticket sales.
People are also changing how they pay for gas. D’Angelo said the most significant change has been the drop in cash and check sales. Credit card purchases now account for 60-70 percent of sales.
“The credit card companies are making all the money,” she said. “We only make about a nickel or seven cents on a gallon of gas.”
D’Angelo explained there is a system to figure out how much the station will have to charge for gas. In addition to the base cost of the gas, a fuel surcharge is assessed depending on where the fuel comes from and even when the fuel is delivered to the station. It is more expensive to order fuel on the weekend versus a weekday. Franchise fees, credit card fees and taxes have to be added in as well. She said with all the extras added in, about 50 cents has to be figured into the price for a gallon of gas.
She has also noticed an increase in people forgetting to pay for their gas.
“It takes me about three days to recover the cost of a drive-off,” D’Angelo said. “Most of the time I really do think it’s an accident because we don’t have pay-at-the-pump.”
Mike Wilson owns and operates Wilson Brothers Chevron with one of his brothers. He said sales are down 4-5 percent, but he is lucky to come away with a 2-cent profit from each gallon sold.
“We try to make 10 to 12 cents per gallon,” Wilson said. “But credit card companies may charge up to 10 cents a gallon. Then with the cost of electricity, I maybe left with 2 cents.”
Like D’Angelo, Wilson has to calculate the price per gallon based on taxes and surcharges.
“The credit card fees kill you,” he said. “Most people have figured out that it’s not the store that’s making all the money.”
The jury is still out on how the gas prices will affect the holiday weekend. Ironically, people are not feeling very independent on our national Independence Day. As the gas prices keep the country in a strangle hold, more people may find other ways to celebrate July 4th.