She’s seen gas prices rise noticeably in the last week, and with a trip to Ohio to visit family in her holiday plans, she’s keeping a wary eye on the pump.
“I wonder why,” Stewart said. “I mean, what’s the purpose of raising gas prices when it’s time for the season when everybody goes to travel?”
According to AAA Alabama’s Fuel Gauge Report, in the last month, the average price for gas in Alabama has risen 15 cents a gallon. The price jumped 13 cents per gallon in the last week. While Anniston’s prices are still a few pennies lower than the state average of $2.83 for a gallon of regular, drivers are feeling the increase. It’s putting added strain on some already-stretched consumers.
“It’s hurting my pocket; I’m laid off ’til the first of the year,” said Piedmont resident Tyler Fortenberry. “I’m just trying to make do, ’cause I have no money. Can’t go out to eat. Can’t do none of that. Actually just got to work to get back and forth to where I’m going.”
The rising prices can probably be traced back to investors, said Clay Ingram, spokesman for AAA Alabama.
“It’s very unusual to see an increase in gas prices this time of year, especially when our demand is on the decline right now,” Ingram said.
Despite an 11.5 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel over last year, demand is way down from previous years and the supplies are high. That should lead to low prices, but the weak dollar is leading investors looking for a profitable place to invest their money to crude oil futures, Ingram said.
“Crude oil is priced in dollars throughout the world,” Ingram said. “When the dollar is devalued, crude oil futures become a bargain investment for foreign investors and they start buying it up in droves and that drives the price up.”
Ingram believes prices will stabilize through the end of the year, but he admits he is surprised the prices would jump up 13 cents in a week.
“A lot of prognosticators say we’re going to get over $3 a gallon on the national average and we’re at $2.95 now,” Ingram said. “That really wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.”
Even this quick increase is making some local residents conserve where they can. Logan Wright of Oxford, a college student already on a lean budget, said she is carpooling to save on fuel costs.
Charles Moore of Anniston is reluctantly curbing holiday travel plans.
“I can’t do what I want to do for Christmas, to go see the people I want to see,” Moore said.
Morgan Lanier, who lives about 10 miles outside of Anniston, conserves on fuel by making fewer trips into town. Freda Cobb of Choccolocco Valley does the same, making trips to Anniston only when necessary. Cobb’s combining purposes whenever she does come in to town and trying to get everything done in one trip.
Cobb watches business news and has seen the crude oil prices climbing. Still she believes the increase can be traced back to bureaucratic red tape.
“I’ve heard Republican rhetoric and I’ve tried to listen to the truth on MSNBC and I figure it’s somewhere right in the middle,” Cobb said laughing as she cradled the soda she just bought at Golden Springs Chevron in the crook of her arm.
But what ever the reason, she’s hurting.
“I’m driving a 15-year-old truck today,” Cobb said, motioning to her vehicle. “If I could go buy a Prius, I would. That’s what kind of aggravates me, is the folks that would save can’t save because they can’t afford the initial investment of an economical car. So, I’m stuck.”
Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.