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Gas prices on the rise

Price at the pump affects prices at grocery stores, elsewhere

Staff writer

Fuel prices have climbed about 27 percent in the past year, and residents are starting to feel the pinch.

“Just in the last couple days people are starting to say things,” Marion and Hillsboro Ampride supervisor Laura Legg said Thursday.

She said she thought people had become used to prices fluctuating, but people were getting the feeling that the current increase in prices could get much worse before it gets better.

If people are upset about fuel prices, it hasn’t translated to a change in habits yet, Legg said. Volume of sales at the stores has remained level, but people are starting to talk about ways to save fuel.

And fuel prices don’t just affect how much people spend to fill up their cars.

“Everything will go up because everything has to be trucked,” Dale’s Supermarket co-owner Dale Franz said Friday. “I hate to see it. It’s no good.”

He said the Hillsboro grocery store is already paying increased fuel surcharges for its merchandise. Fuel prices also affect the cost to grow and harvest food.

“Of course when gas prices go up, grocery prices go up — kind of a ripple effect,” Greg Carlson of Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion said.

Carlson said his store hasn’t seen increased freight charges yet, although prices never really went down after gas prices peaked in 2008.

“Maybe we have a cushion,” he said.

A sampling of gas stations in Marion County showed an average price of $3.48 per gallon for regular unleaded and $3.89 per gallon for highway diesel on Monday.

The average price for unleaded gasoline Monday in Kansas was $3.40 per gallon, KansasGasPrices.com reported. The website collects its data from volunteer price spotters and directly from gas stations. Kansas prices are typically a little below the national average.

Cooperative Grain and Supply office manager Delbert Peters helps set fuel prices for Ampride. He doesn’t know when to expect prices to level off or decrease, because it depends too much on world events.

“Tell me when the Middle East conflict will settle down, and I might be able to tell you when prices will come down,” Peters said.

The highest average price for gasoline in Kansas came in summer 2008, when prices reached an average of $3.96, according to a report from KansasGasPrices.com. But by winter of that year, prices had fallen as low as $1.49 per gallon.

A lot of analysts are comparing 2011 to 2008, and some are talking about $4 or more for gasoline, Peters said.

Aside from the end of unrest in the Middle East, decreased demand is the most likely thing to reduce fuel prices, he said. The recession in 2008 contributed to the eventual decrease in fuel prices, because people weren’t shipping as many goods or taking as many trips. At the same time, people started to get tired of high gasoline prices and sought ways to reduce how much they used, Peters said.

Another thing that may have contributed to the decrease in fuel prices in 2008 was investigations of price gouging, Peters said. When Congress starts questioning whether oil companies are artificially inflating fuel prices, prices have a tendency to decrease, Peters said.

Last modified March 9, 2011

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