The first day is the official day of summer next week, which means the temperature is creeping up.
Unfortunately, gas prices have been too.
According to AAA, the average price of regular unleaded gas in Florida reached a record high of $4.89 per gallon on Monday. The Pensacola metro area hit a record high of $4.694 per gallon on Tuesday, though the price per gallon had dipped slightly to $4.668 by Friday.
For perspective, AAA reported Friday that regular unleaded gas was $2.969 a gallon one year ago.
Global oil prices, national inflation, demand outpacing supply and instability surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine are all factors that continue to impact the cost to drivers.
For two weeks in a row, gas prices increased by double digits. Prices rose by 17 cents in the last week. The week before, they went up by 18 cents.
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Despite the increases, Visit Pensacola President Darien Schaefer believes people within their target range of 350 miles will not be deterred from coming to the city.
“I think we will still see visitors, but everything is more now because of inflation. So whether it’s meals, or it’s lodging or attractions, they’ve all been impacted,” Schaefer said. “But I think what’s great about our destination is the beach is a very low cost opportunity. You can go out to the beach and enjoy the ocean and without that having to cost you a lot of money.”
Schaefer believes people will plan out their destinations closer to the Panhandle instead of traveling farther to places like Southern Florida. People may also take advantage of other free or low cost opportunities like going to a park or a museum.
Even still, visitors, locals and entrepreneurs are feeling the pinch.
Alex Milanesi who runs Big Al’s Lawn Care has had to adapt to the changing economic environment. He has switched over a lot of his tools from gas to electric to help mitigate the costs.
Milanesi also had to drop customers who are not within their service area to save gas and mileage. He uses three trucks for their company and it costs between $70 and $80 to fill each tank — equating to almost $500 dollars a week to keep the fleet all gassed up.
He’s tried to find a sweet spot in pricing — sometimes landing on break-even rates — in an effort to retain and attract customers while ensuring his employees can foot their own bills.
“I’m hoping that gas prices definitely go down not just for me, but for everybody’s sake,” Milanesi said. “I’m really hoping that housing goes down because people need a place to live and people that work for me they’re having a hard time just renting places that are affordable. So when my employees are stressed out, they come to work, they’re stressed out at work, quality drops — it’s all connected.”
According to the AAA, there is some good news.
On Monday, the country’s national average for a regular gallon of gasoline was $5.01 — an all-time high never seen since AAA began collecting pricing data in 2000.
Since then, the national average has decreased by a penny to $5. Additionally, gasoline demand decreased slightly, and the slight drop in demand has helped to limit pump price increases. However, as crude oil prices remain volatile, the price per gallon for gasoline will likely remain elevated overall.
“Gasoline demand, while rising seasonally, is still well below previous records, but remains impressive with prices in all states at record levels,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at travel and navigation app GasBuddy, wrote in blog post Monday. Should the rise in price finally start to slow demand’s rise, we could see some breathing room, but for now, it seems like Americans are proving resilient to record highs.”
Karl Etters from Tallahassee Democrat contributed to this article.