Small businesses feel bite of rising gas price

Posted December 13, 2010 4:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2010 5:40 p.m. EST

With the average price of a gallon of gas flirting with $3, drivers all over the Triangle are feeling the pinch.

On Monday, AAA Carolinas listed the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas at $2.92 in the Triangle. That's one cent less than the statewide average, but more than Virginia to the north and South Carolina to the south. In New York, prices are highest – $3.22 per gallon.

James and Barbara Williford get hit twice in their glass repair business – once on the cost of raw materials and again in fueling the vehicles for their mobile service.

"Every time the gas goes up, they increase our price on the glass. And all because they have to have the petroleum to cook the glass, to make the glass," Barbara Williford said.

The North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association expected prices to continue to rise to about $3.15 per gallon in the next two weeks.

"Competition keeps the prices down," said Gary Harris, a spokesman for the petroleum marketers. He said gas station owners and managers keep an eye on the station across the street and set prices competitively.

While Harris says he understands the frustration of drivers and business owners like the Willifords, it's all about supply and demand.

"What's pushing prices up is the price of crude right now," he said. With experts predicting the price of crude oil, at $88 per barrel on Monday, to hit more than $90 per barrel, someone has to eat the cost.

If the cost of filling up continues to go up, Barbara Williford said she'll have to eliminate on-site glass repair. "All our work would have to be brought into the shop," she said.

If the Willifords can hold on, Harris said, prices should be on the way down by mid-February.