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 8:06PM
All I can say is we had a chance to get Obama out and try something new, and now we are stuck with Obama the Anti-Christ!!!
Feb 26, 2013 8:03PM

Keep packing that wallet full oil exec's ,while mine gets emptier and emptier !!


   An average, patriotic U.S. citizen.

Feb 26, 2013 7:59PM




Feb 26, 2013 7:58PM
record high profits posted year after year. I get it's a business driven by supply and demand but these oil companies are raping the consumer because we have no other choice. I guess this rape is our fault
Feb 26, 2013 7:53PM

OK, Here we go again, Gas over $4.00 a gallon,Is anyone in Washington awake??Do any of you really care?

 I love how our elected officials hide behind the "free market" argument....  Lets all watch our "free market" economy fall on its face because Washington refuses to tell the oil companies to play fair.Maybe all you folks in washington need a hint, High fuel costs mean all us little people who work for a living have to use our "spendable cash" on fuel to stay warm and drive our cars to work, spending all my "play money" to stay warm means I have to STAY HOME instead of shop at the mall, which means the mall merchants make less, and I dont stop at Mc Donalds, so they dont hire anyone,   Are you Washington folks Following me here????

Feb 26, 2013 7:51PM
the ethanol in the gas isnt helping....worse gas mileage than pure gas, rising food prices, and it didnt settle the fuel prices                     f the man!
Feb 26, 2013 7:50PM

Tell Big Ben to print money faster - soon bread will be 4 $ and gas 8$ but obviously everything is under control and inflation is less than 2 %. You can also thank Mr Obama for 5 trillion deficit 

so Ben is forced to print money

Feb 26, 2013 7:45PM
Feb 26, 2013 7:32PM
This is what happens when a president and his party declare war on fossil fuels.  They don't give a damn if it causes another recession, as long as they can force their fascist agenda forward.
Feb 26, 2013 7:30PM
It's up to $4.50 a gal. in inland s. California.   I keep my economy car at home and ride the Metrolink for $16.00 a month as I'm an old coot at over 70.  Gas hit $4.50 a gal. here in July, '08.  Many Europeans are paying $8 a gal. in Denmark...of course it is all Obama's fault.  He controls the price daily from the Oval Office, right?  
Feb 26, 2013 7:28PM

It's sad that at the beginning of Bush Jr's first term you could still get gas for 99 cents a gallon at racetrac.  In less than three years we were at 3x's that. 


As a returning student, this really sucks.  It definitely hurts the lowest income levels the most, eating into essential budget expenditures.

Feb 26, 2013 7:28PM

Obama has raised taxes so much that I can't afford to by a gun.



 Now I can't even afford to drive away.

Feb 26, 2013 7:27PM
Obamanomics.  Obamaville.  mmm, mmm, mmm!
Feb 26, 2013 7:26PM

$4.00 gas is the result of the Feds money printing scam. You now have Dow 14000 and a 50cent

dollar. Supply and demand does not apply when the Fed is devaluing the dollar to support Wall St.

Feb 26, 2013 7:22PM
hey microsoft how about you stop redirecting my browser to paid sites!! I believe a small glitch in your plan has exposed you... my browser momentarily directed to the intended site before changing to you wanted me to see! 
Feb 26, 2013 7:17PM

United States government is getting a cut and this is why they ignore it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. As usual the public takes it on the chin. The economy sucks, jobs suck and as long as OPEC and the US have this agreement, than the american public will continue to pay for the poor decision our government has made over the years.

Get rid of international trade and OPEC, create millions of jobs by drilling for our oil oil, gas etc...manufacturing for all items we buy within the US borders. 

We build for and we provide for our own! Each country can take care of their own!  

Feb 26, 2013 7:14PM

Well,we are fracking oil and gas all over the country like the republicans wanted we are building the Canadian pipeline still no relief,we aren't  going to increase the minimum wage, I suspect. There aren't any major fires no shortage on supply,Oh there changing from summer to winter blend must be it,,,,,,,,,

Feb 26, 2013 6:58PM

Over the past couple of decades Americans have become spoiled with all their vanities, hoarding, and self indulged interests.  American's can talk the talk and complain about gas prices, but instead of doing something about it while the oil companiesexecutes cut themselves in for bigger pay raises and buy outs, lear jets, mansions less affordable Americans do nothing about it!  And lets not forget the automakers who since the 60's had engine concepts that could get 60 plus miles a gallon if they weren't in bed with the other side of the triange the gas companies and politicians who want to get elected, re-elected and do the same with all their money as the oil executives.  When is middle and lower class America going to wake up and fight back.  Stop taking vacations for a year except within close proxmity to home and picket the gas stations selling gas 10 cents more a gallon than the gas station down the street.  Vote the President out that ignores the problem along with the other politicians.  AND IF NOT I HAVE THE CURE FOR ALL THOSE AMERICANS WHO WANT TO DO NOTHING.  RAISE THE COST OF A GALLON OF GAS TO $10.00 A GALLON OR MORE AND MAYBE THESE AMERICANS WILL GET OFF THEIR BUTTS AND FIGHT BACK.  IT'S THE MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASS THAN OWNS AMERICA.  BY THE WAY I AM AN AMERICAN WHO IS FED UP, BUT CAN'T GET ANYONE WHO GIVE A DAMM TO FIGHT.

Feb 26, 2013 6:58PM
the next three day weekend get your groceries on the way home and park the car all weekend, turn off the AC and enjoy the out doors meet your neighbors, if 70% of america did this they would choke on their oil by Monday but the only way it works is if everybody actually does it!
Feb 26, 2013 6:40PM

to all that complain stop using gas

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