Record gas prices hit your wallet twice - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Record gas prices hit your wallet twice

Albany-- Petroleum prices are no longer just going to hit you at the pump. The cost of fuel has driven up freight costs, making it hard for South Georgia businesses who depend on truck shipments to keep their own prices low.

Florist Mary Stephens takes pride in making the freshest arrangements possible for her customers. "Usually I get fresh flowers on Thursdays and as I need them. Sometimes it's every day," she says.

Fortunately, her wholesalers haven't passed on the extra cost of shipping to her yet, but with dozens of call in orders, and wires through Teleflora she's had to increase her prices. "Delivery cannot remain the same with the gas prices going up," says Stephens.

"Of course by having independent delivery people you have to pay them to deliver for you, and customers just don't want to pay that extra because of course as the gas prices has gone up we know we're going to have to go up on delivery."

Stephens says it's hard for small businesses like hers to turn a profit when the average price at the pump is more than $2 a gallon. She admits having customers choose pick-up rather than delivery takes a little of the fun out of what she does. "Their wives, their girlfriends or their friends would like to have their flowers delivered, rather than their husband or boyfriend bringing them to them. That's the exciting part of it right there," says Stephens.

Increased freight costs are also draining restaurants like the Harvest Moon. Food and beverage shipments are made their every day. "A lot of it comes from Atlanta now, so definitely the prices on my product are going up because of gas prices," says owner Bo Henry.

Henry says his expenses have already gone up about 2%, and increase he hasn't had to pass on to customers yet. "For a while I'll just take the hit and try to keep my prices down, but eventually if they keep going up I'm sure myself as well as a lot of other businesses will have to do the same thing," Henry says.

Even though big businesses have a lot more freight coming in, Henry says small businesses will be hurt the most. "Big businesses a lot of times have their own transportation, which that cuts down a little bit. If you're depending on someone else to bring it to you, you're dependent on what they're wanting to regulate the prices at," he says.

And as long fuel prices continue to break records, consumers will likely have to pay more for everything from flowers to food.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com