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Happy holidays! Gas prices on rise

December 28, 2011
People who filled up their car's fuel tank on Tuesday or Wednesday last week were probably gloating a bit by Thursday when gas prices began to jump.

Gas prices increased sharply throughout the area late last week. Photo by Lee Cable
Those who live in the Louisville area were hit harder than their rural counterparts, with some gas outlets raising prices as much as 50 cents a gallon. Regular unleaded prices had dropped significantly for several days the week before, dipping as low as $2.99 at some stations. But the sigh of relief from lower prices then became a roar of disapproval as prices began to climb again on Thursday and Friday. Gas at many stations was costing customers as much as $3.52 a gallon.

And although prices climbed across the river in Southern Indiana, as well, those who live and buy their gasoline several miles from the city were not hit with price increases quite so stunning.

"We went up to $3.29 this morning," said Roscoe Hooten at the Circle A station in Marengo on Friday. "Yesterday, we were selling regular unleaded for $3.21. So, it took a big jump, but not as much as it did in Louisville. I'll bet people who woke up there this morning were shocked to see how much it had increased.

"We didn't go up that much, but it still hurts people right here at Christmas time. The increase actually doesn't come from us, but from our suppliers. If we have to pay $3.30 a gallon, we can't sell it for $3.20. We wouldn't be in business very long if we did that."

Randy Sanders, who owns the Marengo One-Stop, just across the road from the Circle A, agreed with Hooten.

"Gas here went down to $3.19 a few days ago," Sanders said. "We're now back up to $3.29. We had to raise prices about 4 cents since yesterday. But last night, I was up in the Bloomington area and saw gas prices as high as $3.38 a gallon. So, the increase hasn't hit us as hard as it has there, but it still affects people."

Many stations are still using gasoline from their tanks that was bought at lower prices days ago. But when that has all been sold to customers, stores will have to refill their tanks at a higher cost.

"I'm still running on the same storage tank that was just filled," Sanders said Friday. "But I'll probably run low by this evening and the next time a tanker comes and fills my tank, I'm sure it will be even more expensive. And we have to either raise our prices or eat the increase ourselves, and we won't last long if we do that."

At the Pilot truck stop in Carefree, gas was selling for $3.29 a gallon by Friday morning.

"We had to raise our prices yesterday," a spokesman for the business said. "Right now, diesel is about the same. Diesel use usually slacks off during holiday periods, so I don't see those prices changing much. But we're just like everyone else, the price of our gasoline depends on what we have to pay for gas coming from our supplier, the Marathon Terminal in Louisville. When they charge more, we have no choice but to charge more, as well."

In contrast, gasoline at the 64 Express Mart in English was still $3.26 a gallon. But it was still operating on gas that was bought to fill their tanks days earlier at cheaper prices.

"It's been that for a few days," said a cashier. "But gas goes up and down all the time. You just can't predict what it will be from one day to the next anymore."

Many believe that it has become a regular issue, that gas prices will always rise during holidays because demand is higher.

"And because they can get away with it," said Shelva King, who was filling his car's gas tank at a station in New Salisbury. "I can handle a small increase, but why does it go up so much at one time? No one seems to know the answer."

King was paying $3.39 a gallon on Friday morning at Cowboys in New Salisbury. The Marathon Food Center, just down the road, had gas for $3.35. And in the Corydon area, prices varied from one station to another, as well. The Shell station on S.R. 135 had gas at $3.39 on Friday, while just across the road at Cowboys, gas was selling for $3.29.

"This whole thing makes little sense," King said. "And I don't think anyone likes it. It's surely a bad time of the year to gouge folks."

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