Biking around Davis, many students may not be affected by gasoline prices, but those driving and running businesses around California are.
Gas prices in California have tumbled from an all-time high of $4.59 in June to an average of $2.37 currently, according to the California Energy Commission. Though the economy is taking a toll on businesses, the drop in gas prices has been a silver lining for some.
“We have a free shuttle at our hotel, so that affects our fuel costs with drop-offs and pick-ups,” said front desk manager Elizabeth Perez at the Howard Johnson Hotel on Chiles Road. “Everyone is being affected by the implications of how the economy is doing in general, but this was a big dramatic change for the better.“
It has also benefited retailers in Davis.
“I think the price change came at a good time because people don‘t have to worry about the added financial burden during the holidays,” said Davis Food Co-op marketing coordinator, Seth McOmber. “It‘s been good for our business because it‘s keeping people happy and willing to buy nice things, especially since we sell more expensive higher quality products.“
From Davis SunMart gas station clerk Riaz Haq‘s perspective, however, things are different.
“Business is slow even though prices are down,” Haq said. “People are still buying less groceries [in the food mart] from here as well. We thought it would get busier. I guess people are concerned more with holiday shopping.“
A weekly MasterCard survey found that the number of credit card swipes at gas stations across the country decreased by 3.9 percent compared with last year‘s numbers. This leaves gas stations with fewer sales, but helps other businesses that receive the leftover money that is not spent on gas.
“Business has been steady this year, but it hasn‘t been a big growth year because of the overall economic picture,“ said Dee Clark, general manager of Woodstock‘s Pizza.
Gas definitely affects the price of doing business for Woodstock’s, Clark said, because pizza delivery drivers have to be paid more to cover the cost of gas.
The cost of food delivered to places like Woodstock’s or the Co-op generally stays the same, but the business has to pay a fuel surcharge that fluctuates with the price of gas.
“We don’t have to raise prices as much when the fuel surcharges are lower,” McOmber said, “although they haven’t quite lowered yet because [the companies that charge for delivering food] are waiting for things to settle down.“
Don Howell, assistant manager of the moving truck division at Davis‘ Budget Rental, said the price of gas impacts what kind of vehicles people rent.
“People are more willing to rent out our trucks for moving when the cost of renting the regular gas trucks is lower,” Howell said.
For students, the biggest effect is on the cost of a drive home.
“Going home is so expensive, but with the lower gas prices it doesn‘t cost as much to maintain my car,“ said junior psychology major Jenna Stallard, who is from Fresno. “I didn‘t want to drive anywhere over the summer. Now the lower prices make you want to go more places more often.“
Frequent commutes can also be affected by the change in gas prices, making it more convenient for those who drive a lot.
“I drive to San Francisco every weekend, so the lower gas prices are very helpful,“ said sophomore civil engineering major AJ Massis. “With more money in your pocket, you don’t have to be as stingy about giving friends rides.“
For Davis‘ Palm Court Hotel front desk clerk Kelly Jonasen, the effects of lower prices are more personal than job wise.
“I don‘t have a far commute, but with the lower prices I‘ve been driving a bit more to work rather than riding my bike,” Jonasen said.
According to a California Energy Commission spokesperson, prices are expected to rise again in spring, as demand is usually higher during that time of year. With an ample supply and less demand, prices tend to stabilize.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.