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 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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Feb 26, 2013 6:38PM
big oil is the puppet master all bow down
Feb 26, 2013 6:32PM

What the country should do is have a gas strike knowbody buy gas for a couple of days and see how big oil likes that. Do that a couple times a year.

Feb 26, 2013 6:25PM

" The Master's " Voice,

There is no surprise at all that 'Big Oil', its oil barons and speculators that control the most important commodity on the planet have yet again ratcheted up the price of petroleum products. The oil conglomerates and their CEOs have borrowed all of their moves from the original 'playbook' written by 'The Master' and the biggest thief in American history ... John D Rockefeller. More than a century ago his Standard Oil Company consolidated and gained control of all of the facets of the industry; drill leases, wellheads, transportation of crude, refining and retail operations. Is it any wonder that in 1892 he became the world's very first Billionaire? It is clear that the oil barons of the 21st century are following lockstep in his path. Moreover, like Rockefeller, their consolidation of wealth is directly proportional to the unchallenged protective power that their money has purchased in high places ...including our always-for-sale 'esteemed' Congress. Unfortunately the 'big fix' is in, and the economy and American public be damned.

Peace to all ~


Feb 26, 2013 6:13PM

Two things can account for this:

1) Sequester

2) Global Warming

Feb 26, 2013 6:13PM
All the crooks just keep getting richer.  So much for free enterprise and capitalism.  It isn't working all that great for most of us anymore. 
Feb 26, 2013 6:13PM
last time I looked this scum, that own these companies were Republicans ! It is just one lie after another the assaults on middle income people is unbelievable and the assault comes from every direction raising the minimum wage the Republicans are smacking their lips everything will go up in price the working man will not get a raise but the corporate bosses will get million dollar bonuses this scum that wrote this new national healthcare system can't wait for it to kick in they'll all be millionaires overnight unless the insurance companies have already paid them off why do you not understand that these people that are in those positions are Republicans you call this Obama care Republicans are still laughing at the naming of it. Let's hope the revolution is soon of course I'm a little old-fashioned I think our Congress and Senate should be tarred and feathered right along with these oil company executives. It's time for a leader to step up this government has outlived its usefulness entirely. 95% of the people I talked to believe in a revolution and we all hope that it will be peaceful the tea party was taken over by the deposed Republicans I know I sound biased because there's a lot of Democrats that are masquerading and are just as guilty there probably the worst kind that hide in the shadow
Feb 26, 2013 6:11PM
No compelling reason for the price hike. GREED is the only answer!!!!
Feb 26, 2013 5:59PM
Could it be the Dollar's purchasing power is falling. I remember when gas was around $4.00 per gallon last time and price per barrel was around $135. Today the price per barrel is around $93 yet we are nearing $4.00 per gallon. What gives? Is it greed or is it the Dollar is worth less?
Feb 26, 2013 5:57PM
the people spoke last november. i hope their happy, this month is just the beginning of bad news. wait the fun really starts in 2014 when obamacare really kicks in
Feb 26, 2013 5:56PM

They do it because they can. WE THE PEOPLE IS A JOKE

Feb 26, 2013 5:56PM
I say screw the refineries and lets switch over to CNG. We can then export our oil and gouge the other countries like OPEC has done to us for years. OPEC oil cartel ride around in Rolls and Mercedes, not camels because their countries are wealthy from exporting oil.
Feb 26, 2013 5:55PM
Like, I don't want to pay no $4 a gallon for nothin.
Feb 26, 2013 5:54PM
Why is Moochelles Momma STILL LEECHING off the public ?
What does SHE bring to the table ?
Do we really have to support ANOTHER darkie on the dole ?
This time in the white house ?
Really ?

Feb 26, 2013 5:49PM
When is that jacka$$ in the whitehouse going to park watermellon one and stay in DC and try to work with congress to fix the budget. The first place to start is no more fuel for that plane for him or moochelle.
Feb 26, 2013 5:46PM
The problem that people are facing is cutting back on their spending, which also means cutting back on how much food there is for the family. The richer keeps getting richer and the poorer stays in poverty. Surprising as it is, you don't see that many riots maybe is because no one is able to buy a weapon anymore. With the government trying to help the people get out of poverty, the tycoons look at it as more money in their pockets. What people save from the government is being turned around and given ten fold to the tycoons.
Feb 26, 2013 5:42PM
lets see, about 15 years ago gas was  around $1.10 a gal .cars were getting about 20 mpg on average. the feds said to the auto makers your cars must get better mileage so the auto makers made cars that got about 23-24 mpg. gas went up to $1.25 per gal. then the feds said you need to get your fleets to average 25-27 mpg. they did and gas went up to $1.90-2.00 per gal. a trend had been established. 30 mpg cars, $2.50-3.00 per gal. now we have autos that deliver  35-40 mpg and gas is now $4.00 per gal. when the brilliant goverment we have says that they need to increase the mpg agian, guess where gas prices will go.  60 mpg cars, $5-7 per gal.  80 mpg, gas at $8-10 per gal. get used to it folks, no matter where the oil comes from, it's going to cost you. our government doesn't give a damn. they are just not smart enough to know what the hell to do.
Feb 26, 2013 5:42PM
 Boy, wow, and people complain about Bush, at least the Gas was cheeper, taxes were lower, and the up and coming events will show something.
Feb 26, 2013 5:40PM

It is unbelievable that oil companies continue to increase the price of gasoline while reporting year after year after year of record breaking profits in the billions, while at the same time receiving millions in subsidies and tax breaks from the US government.


I am all for free enterprise but it has come time for the President and Congress to act.


Stop the oil subsidies. Stop the oil tax breaks. Freeze gas prices, or regulate the way in which prices can be increased. Every time the economy begins to gain ground the hike in gas prices forces every aspect of growth to a grinding stop. I would say that gas prices have been the biggest hindrance to a sustained recovery for the last three years. Big oil needs to be contained!

Feb 26, 2013 5:38PM
I've been paying four dollar a gallon for diesel for what seems like an eternity. Fortunately I get Twenty miles per gallon which makes the pain a little easier.
Feb 26, 2013 5:37PM
Until Obama is out of office these oil companies will continue to pummel the economy and the consumer. Everyone had the chance in November but they turned right around and chose to take the hard road. This man is not wanted as POTUS and the oil companies are going to punish the US taxpayer by jacking the price up and taking your subsidies. Then they'll export as much as they can for more profits. Its going to be like this for another 3 1/2 years so get used to it. And the even worst thing is the NYSE is up by over 100 points today. SO while your going broke or taking food off the table, someone is making  money betting against the consumer or in favor of the house.

That big gas guzzler isn't looking so appealing now is it?
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