Daytona Beach — The recent surge in gasoline prices has been impossible for the average American to miss, with the national average now at a breathtaking $4.59 per gallon. With prices at their highest in years, drivers across the country are feeling the impact at the pumps daily.
And it gets worse, depending on where you are. In some areas of Volusia County, prices are much higher than others. This kind of pricing makes it much more appealing to drive to specific gas stations to get better prices, provided you know where they are. According to GasBuddy (a platform designed to show online users where the cheapest gas stations are in a nearby location), Sam’s Club gas and Buc-ee’s are the two gas stations in Daytona Beach currently offering the cheapest gasoline prices.
A Gas Oasis
Buc-ee’s gas station first opened its location in Daytona Beach in 2021. Located at Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard, right across the street from Tanger Outlets, a nearby Sam’s Club gas station, this is currently a hotspot for great gas prices. The station stretches across 53,000 square feet, and visitors can find 104 fueling positions and a store featuring thousands of snacks, meals, and drink options. All of this as well as, of course, the second-lowest gas price in the state, at $3.87 a gallon.
Across the street, Sam’s Club gas station currently offers a gratifying price of $3.76 a gallon. The only disadvantage? They require shoppers to be part of their membership program. Still, with prices like this, it’s hard to argue. Reportedly, Sam’s Club currently offers the lowest price anywhere in Florida for regular unleaded.
“It’s worth it to be a member. It’s nearly 60 cents cheaper than the other gas stations around here”, one person said.
“I work in construction and my job requires me to drive long distances to various locations. I am sick and tired of working so hard and all my money going into fueling my tank. I just don’t see any reason to go to any other gas station than Sam’s Club to fuel my car, at least right now,” said Randy McGarvey, who works for a Renovation contractor.
Daytona Examiner staff took a drive around Daytona and Ormond Beach, visiting various gas stations, from large chains to privately owned establishments. Across the board, these gas stations were 30 to 40 cents more expensive than Buc-ee’s and Sam’s Club. In most cases, private establishments were closer to 50 cents higher.
Michael Leeper, who works for a local moving company said he drives from Palm Coast to the nearby cities for his job, with a pre-planned stop at Buc-ee’s. “I don’t fill up my gas at Palm Coast gas stations because the average price is around $4.25 a gallon. This is literally the only place that offers a gallon of gas for less than $4. It might not sound like a big deal but saving a buck is a big deal for me, especially with the economy,” he said.
“Look it really doesn’t make too much financial sense driving out here just to get cheaper gas. Still, I do it and everyone I know does it too,” said Christopher Armstrong as he finished filling up his tank.
Skyrocketing Gas Prices
On Wednesday May 18, the national average hit another record, reaching $4.56 per gallon. This represents an almost 50 cent increase from the prior month, and $1.52 up from this time last year, according to recent data published by AAA.
As part of the sales-tax “holiday”, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the tax package House Bill 7071, passed by the Legislature in March 2022. The main objective of this bill is to provide $1.2 billion of tax relief for Florida residents. HB 7071 provides for ten tax holidays for a variety of items commonly purchased by Floridians, including fuel, disaster supplies, diapers and potential tools.
On Wednesday in the Panhandle, at a live press conference, DeSantis spoke about inflation and the rising gas prices. He criticized the Biden administration and referred to the climbing gas prices as a “huge failure.”
“You’re gonna, you know, unless they reverse course, you’re gonna see it over $5 a gallon for unleaded and in places like California, it’ll probably be like seven or $8 because all the taxes they have that is going to be a huge, huge to a lot of working people.,” DeSantis said.
Trickle Down Impact
Trucking companies and retailers are filled with high anxiety as they see no slowing down in increased gas prices and worsening diesel shortages that might impact intermittent rationing in some other places. Middle distillates, which include both diesel and gas oil, are the primary fuel used in manufacturing, trucking, shipping, freight railroads, farming and mining. Its availability closely corresponds with the business cycle and has played a major role in.
The recent hikes in price have also affected schools around the nation, not only in terms of student transportation, but in operations as well. Meal prices, for example, have increased due to increased delivery costs, said Coni Dobbels, supervisor of food and nutrition services at the school district of Davenport, Iowa.
The cost of airline tickets have recently increased as well, specifically due to increased operation costs. Fuel expenses are a large part of an airline’s overhead, as fluctuating oil prices massively impact operation costs. As soon as the gasoline prices rise, airlines are forced to increase prices for their flights. In order for airline companies to protect themselves from volatile oil costs, sometimes they will attempt to take advantage of rising fuel prices and engage in the practice of “Fuel Hedging” or “Fuel Risk Management”. Whatever you call it, this is a strategy used by transportation companies across air, land and sea to reduce or eliminate their exposure to volatile and potentially rising fuel prices.
As rising fuel prices negatively impact the economy, they are also forcing some businesses to re-evaluate their hiring practices, holding off as they are uncertain about the economy’s long term health. A lack of discretionary spending results in decreased sales, in turn limiting companies’ ability to hire. Due to this phenomenon, many companies full of workers doing their jobs without the need to physically be at their facilities have sent their employees home to work remotely.
Companies looking for new employees are also butting up against high rates of decline, as potential job candidates are forced to turn down prospective positions due to the costs associated with transportation. It’s simple math in many cases: the costs to travel from home to work eat up more of their salary than they would earn back, so they have to turn the position down.
Prior to the recent surge, gasoline hit a record high of $4.10 a gallon in 2008, topping $130 per barrel of oil just before the financial crisis. But that spike proved temporary, and prices fell in the ensuing recession quickly after. U.S. oil prices have since retreated and secured firmly above $100 per barrel. At the beginning of 2022, a barrel of crude oil fetched $75, while at this time last year, prices were close to $63.
The rapid increase in oil prices and fuel cost around the nation has created a challenge for the Biden administration to act quickly, which has called on producers to pump more. While oil companies are reluctant to drill after pledging capital discipline to all shareholders, company executives report that even if they wanted to pump more, they simply can’t as they are facing similar issues to other companies across the country, from labor shortages to rising prices of parts and raw materials, the key foundation of their production.
Overall, rising gas prices are also impacting consumer sentiment in new and dramatic ways. A detailed poll released by Gallup shows signs of inflation emerging as the top public concern. 59% of respondents reported worrying about rising prices. 24% said they worry about inflation. President Biden, meanwhile, believes that any potential inflation is “temporary,” and his chief of staff, Ronald Klain, believes it is nothing more than a “high class problem.” Biden’s plan to combat the occurrence of potential inflation is to print more money. White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has said repeatedly that President Biden’s agenda will cost Americans zero dollars.
According to reports, president Biden has spent more money in the first eight months of his presidency than the entire federal government did in 2018 and 2019 combined. The U.S. deficit is the largest it’s been since World War II, as the nation’s debt has reached as high as $30 Trillion, all while Americans are still dealing with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Given growing anxiety over rising prices, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed another plan to potentially help out Americans living in the state of California, by sending $400 as a direct payment to all vehicle owners in the state, regardless of their income status. These payments would be capped at two vehicles per person, amounting to roughly $18.1 billion in direct payments.
As economic experts continue to assure Americans that inflation will eventually ease, even while inflation remains painfully high, one thing seems likely: it could absolutely turn out even higher than we expect. As the divide between supply and demand begins to widen, from the war and further commodity-price gains, it seems inflation is set to remain persistently high.
These numbers could slow down, but nothing is for certain. The Covid pandemic isn’t behind us yet and the Russia-Ukraine war may not be resolved any time in the near future, and both could prolong supply disruptions. This means further cost increases and persistent market volatility. Whether inflation does or does not continue to intensify, we have yet to see it trend downwards.