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Gas prices set a new record in Florida, AAA says

Gas pump in car
Posted at 10:36 AM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 18:30:03-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A new day means a new record for gas prices in the state of Florida. AAA said the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline reached a new record high of $4.49 per gallon in Florida.

Gas prices have been rising for weeks across the country, but especially in Florida. Prices jumped roughly 30 cents in the past week with Floridians paying an average of more than $1.60 per gallon more than the same time last year.

"Drivers are dealing with unprecedented pain at the pump and things could soon get worse before they get better," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "We saw more big gains in the gasoline futures market late last week, which could trickle down to yet another 10-20 cent jump at the pump in the near future."

If prices jump another 20 cents per gallon, Florida gas prices will be approaching $4.75 a gallon for regular gas and any further upheaval or more volatility in the oil markets could send prices even higher.

AAA said a combination of oil prices above $105 a barrel, a tightening gasoline supply, and increasing demand with the summer travel season are all contributing to the record surge in gas prices in Florida and across parts of the U.S.

In the Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, AAA estimates a gallon of regular gasoline will cost around $4.51 a gallon, which is 36 cents more than a week ago when the price was $4.15 a gallon. Further complicating matters is the price of diesel which now stands at $5.64 a gallon, making deliveries of all items and goods more expensive, including gas deliveries.

Florida's gas prices are also an outlier in the southeastern United States. Florida's closest neighbor, Georgia has an average price of $4 a gallon for drivers in that state. The state closest to Florida with gas above $4.30 a gallon is Virginia at $4.32 a gallon for regular gasoline.

The question for drivers is, will there be any relief soon?

According to AAA, the answer is no.

"Unfortunately, $4 gasoline is likely to be that unwelcome passenger on most Florida summer road trips," Jenkins continued. "At this point, the state average is not expected to exceed $5 a gallon. However, the fuel market is extremely unstable and things are changing by the day. Either way, drivers should expect gas prices to keep fluctuating throughout the summer and potentially the rest of the year."

Business owners who make a living on the road are feeling the pinch too.

Jerry Garvey has been operating an Auntie Anne's Pretzel food truck for about two years and now has to adjust his menu and prices as costs continue to rise.

"It's unfortunate that in the end it's the consumer that's paying whether you know it's a single mom or a family of four or five or six. Everything is going up," Garvey said.

Garvey said his business is lucrative, but like so many other jobs on wheels the costs are causing him to rethink where he sets up.

"If gas was cheaper certainly I could go father and it would make it a little bit more financial sense to go farther but you know when it costs between the generator on the trailer and the actual tank on the truck you know I have a diesel truck that I'm towing it's not difficult to spend $200 bucks just filling them," Garvey said.

There's no doubt where our economy stands now has changed the way people go about their daily lives.

"It certainly has affected behavior. We don't spend as much. We don't go out to eat as much and when you do the first thing you talk about is oh my gosh, instead of ordering soda let's order water," Garvey said.

Zahra Akbari can attest to that.

As an economy teacher at the University of South Florida she has studied behavioral economics since 2017.

The pandemic, she said has changed people's values and said people want to spend more time with their loved ones.

When it comes to gas prices and inflation she said it has changed people's routines.

"Gas is something necessary for our world so we use it a lot. So, that's why based on just a theory we don't expect to see a lot of change in how much people use gas," Akbari said.

However, Akbari said there could be a change in how people spend their money and in some cases Akbari said we could see people spend more cash as the prices climb.

"People think that the prices are going to get higher so what happens is now that I think everything is going to be higher in price later now I spend more because I want to stock up some goods," Akbari said.

The pandemic mixed with high inflation and whispers of a possible recession isn't an ideal recipe for business owners like Garvey, but he said he tries to take it all in stride.

"You can hear so much chatter about what's going on and you can let it overtake you and I don't let that happen. I try not to let that happen," Garvey said.