The pain of $4-a-gallon gas is spreading

This tipping point is already hitting the country's most populated areas. As gas prices surge, some consumers may cut spending in other areas.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 26, 2013 3:41PM

Image: Buying gas (© moodboard/Corbis/Corbis)A tipping point has hit some of the country's most populated areas: the $4 gallon of gas, which is digging into the pocketbooks of consumers in New York, California and Washington, D.C., according to the Automobile Association of America.


While painful for consumers, high gas prices may also spell trouble for the still-recovering economy. At $4 per gallon and higher, almost one-third of consumers say they're forced to make "significant cutbacks" in spending, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.


February's price jump has been unusual, given that drivers typically take to the roads less in winter, leading to lower demand for gas. But refinery shutdowns have resulted in tighter supply, which is driving up prices. 


Unfortunately for consumers, it's likely that more parts of the country will soon feel the $4 pain, despite a break in the rising streak.


That's because fuel prices typically rise in March and April, as weather improves and drivers take to the road again. Peak prices this spring might approach the highs seen in 2011 and 2012, AAA noted in a Feb. 19 blog post


The worst-hit cities are in California, with Santa Barbara residents paying the highest prices in the country: $4.36 for a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. Other hard-hit towns include Honolulu, where a gallon costs $4.27, and New York City, where drivers pay $4.06. 


The higher costs are taking their toll on consumers, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), which represents the convenience and fuel retailing industry. 


Almost one-quarter of consumers who buy gas are "very pessimistic" about the economy, up from 18% in January, when fuel prices started climbing, according to the NACS Consumer Fuels Survey


"[C]onsumers are feeling the pain from higher gas prices and this is affecting their feelings about the economy in general," said John Eichberger, NACS vice president of government relations, in a statement. "Worse, consumers see no end in sight, with 62% saying that they expect prices to be even higher in the coming weeks."


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195Comments
May 29, 2013 6:17PM
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High gas prices were only bad under Bush, now high gas prices are GOOD under Obama...watch this and try not to throw up...



I voted for Romney and the Keystone pipeline, who did you vote for?
May 29, 2013 6:16PM
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The folks in dc are all a bunch of crooks. That sounds general but how can it not be. They vote on their own wages, they don't work off of budget and they don't have the same healthcare we do. It is written right into the 2000 pages or whatever  that "we have to pass to see whats in it" bs. What a logical way to solve an issue. Dumb b. The economy is never going to straighten out until gas prices  at least get to 2.25 or less. Which is still outrageous. Gas effects everything!!duh. My kids asked me the other night why do I always complain about gas prices so I put it like this....I just put 40 dollars in because it what we need to get from point a to point b. If I only had to put in 20 dollars I could have used that 20 on going to the toy store instead of giving it to the gas company that made 4 billion dollars last quarter. If 9 and 7 year old can figure that out why cant dc. Oh yeah that's right that all make six figures and only work half of the year. The only way any of this will be straighten out is everybody in dc has a term limit. How long can Mc Cain stay in? Kennedy had to die to get out. What is up with that. I can tell u this George Washington is rolling over in his grave. He understood the Pres needed a limit but never thought the so call representation would milk these "volunteer" positions for an eternity. All I do is work work work and all of it goes to taxes, gas and food. what the F! The melting pot is full 
May 29, 2013 3:10PM
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We cant do a thing about it oil runs this country and the government. oil is going down in price gas is going up I get to the point and say what the hell we are screwed what can we do. greed sucks no one seems to care we cant hurt big oil now they want to bring a pipe line from Canada bet our gas prices don't go down.
May 29, 2013 1:08PM
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An entire economy can be built by switching to mass transit including the creations of millions of good paying jobs.
May 29, 2013 1:03PM
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Tax gasoline and diesel and build mass transit.

Jobs + affordable transit.

Localize instead of corporatize.

Local farms = jobs.

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i have customers you come in my business every day and buy 2 energy drinks a package of cigarettes which comes to over 10 dollars and gets upset when fuel goes up 5 cent's a gallon i call that jump ing over dollars to pickup dimes   we haven't had a refinery build in this country for years and one of the reasons is the cost is well over a billion dollars but the biggest problem is  government and state regulations plus years to build also remember oil is a commodity which people all over the world invest in they have a lot to do with the price of fuel i have customers who spend 30000 dollars for a large vehicle and finance it  and then complain about the price of fuel boy what a country we live in
Apr 29, 2013 5:19PM
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The N Dakota oil is a sham every oil well that comes online in a month or year oil starts dropping off and a new well has to be started again. Also this type of drilling is way more expensive than traditional wells that supply the Alaska pipe line. Everybody needs to stop speeding and be more conservative on driving. The slower a vehicle goes the better the mileage. Tell your politicians to open the door to Brazilian ethanol. That country does not have a fuel problem but lots of cars and will export the fuel
Apr 29, 2013 5:09PM
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I'm sure free fuel is another job perk. The refineries say they produce spring, summer, fall and winter blends that are different grades and not produced the same. Just another smoke and mirror job to keep raising prices. Fuel is fuel. The only difference is octane additive. There needs to be a set price for fuel at the beginning of the year that cannot waiver for the entire 12 months, and this price should be voted on by the people every year, and companies have to abide by this. The same should go for electric and gas companies. We all have to live on budgets why can't they. All these companies have free reign on taxpayer money and i'm tired of it. I live in the upper Midwest which pay some of the highest gas taxes in the country, and our fuel comes from Canada. Yet we pay imported prices. Somebody out there is making a hell of a lot of money and it is not us.
Apr 29, 2013 2:54PM
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I got an idea.  Why not quit exporting our fuel to Japan and Israel.  Use domestic fuel for US domestic consumption only.  That should up the supplies and lower the cost....but the only problem is, whenever the cost of fuel goes down, the state and federal government put new taxes on it.  At least if we're not willing to drill anywhere in this country to get oil...use what we have for our own people.
Feb 28, 2013 8:09PM
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  I wish the trucking companies would shut down for just 10 days. That will break Oboma, the Democrats and hey, Cheaper gas!!!
Feb 28, 2013 2:03AM
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What the hell are you Americans complaining about? Here in Australia, we are paying the equivalent to $US6.20 a gallon. Suck it up whiners and before you say we do not have to travel as far here as you do there, come visit one day and find out how wrong you are.
Feb 28, 2013 1:55AM
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 our government needs to step in and step up to make the oil company's and speculators quit screwing us. something like the price of gas needs to be regulated since apparently they can use any excuse at any time to raise the price as much as they want to.
Feb 27, 2013 10:36PM
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There are artificially imposed issues that are raising the cost of gas. Boutique blends for states like California add to the problem. Ethanol is yet another problem as it requires purging lines and special handling. Then there's the artificially inflated cost of corn itself, which the Fed wouldn't let drought stricken farmers buy to feed their flocks and herds. And finally there hasn't been a new refinery built in thirty years in the US.  All it takes is bad weather or annual maintenance or a seasonal change to raise the cost of gas at the pump. Of course the part you don't see is the local, state and Federal taxes made on the cost per dollar. This last one is why the Federales don't give a flip what Main Street has to pay for a gallon of gas to get to work, after all, Pelosi flies for free.
Feb 27, 2013 6:29PM
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How's that hopey-changey sh!t working out for you, America?

Feb 27, 2013 4:01PM
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 It is the fault of Christopher Columbus.  He got lost and ended up in this land with no natural resources.  We have to import everything because he brought the EPA, OSHA, DEA, GREEN PEACE, SIERRA CLUB, George Soros, Al Gore etc?
Feb 27, 2013 2:37PM
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Take crude oil off the futures market and force Big Oil to compete against each other for our business.  

 

OR, start paying their fair share of taxes on the billions in profits, so the government can reduce the working mans taxes....

Feb 27, 2013 2:29PM
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If all people and businesses in this country refused to buy fuel and oil from one oil company, like the biggest one, (Standard oil), or the one with the most fines and problems, (BP) for one month, see how the price of fuel comes down. Most people do not know this, The fuel you buy today was made a month ago, so when the oil companies claim there is a shortage of fuel, it's all Bullsh*t. Their storage tanks are full of fuel and crude oil, and they will store refined gasoline and Diesel fuel in oil tankers, barges, and even closed gas stations. They are doing now what they did in the 70's gas shortages, but to a lesser extent. I worked in the Construction industry in the 70's and worked on projects at oil refineries. When I was low on fuel in my work truck and on my construction equipment, they GAVE me fuel, free of charge. If there is really a fuel shortage, then I am a Ballerina! Wake up people, this is nothing but a way to get more money from us all and tax breaks from the government,who is going along with this BS. Everything we buy takes Diesel fuel to get to us, the consumer. Wonder why Diesel fuel costs more than premium gasoline? That's because trucks use it to transport everything we use, and they use a lot of it, and the oil companies obviously know this. The average semi truck gets between 5-8 miles per gallon on fuel that costs less to make and store than gasoline. Let the oil companies and politicans have their way and enjoy $5.00 a gallon gas, $6.00 a gallon diesel fuel, and $5.00 for a gallon of milk and $4.00 for a dozen eggs.  
Feb 27, 2013 12:40PM
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Big oil companies lowered the price of gas when they saw that Obama was going to win. Best to have him not slam them with the stick too hard. Now, he has won and fuel is back up even though oil is not. In the first debate with Hillary, Obama stated that he thought gas needed to be at $4 per gallon. Otherwise people would not be conservative on their gas consumption. The problem was that the price rose too fast. Wow, guess where gas is at now. It is a surprise?


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