Gas prices cut into extra expenses - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gas prices cut into extra expenses

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June 2, 2008

Albany--  Gas prices continue to hover close to $4 a gallon. That's not just hurting you.  It's hurting the places you patronize as people cut back on spending.

Take restaurants for example--27 percent of restaurant owners say the economy is the number one challenge they face. Fewer of you are eating out in order to pay for necessities.  But restaurants aren't the only ones feeling the squeeze.

"I think you just had the one package right?," said Lynn Sommet to a dry-cleaning customer Monday afternoon.

The fast paced world of the the dry-cleaning business has had a strong clamp on Lynn Sommet for some time now. "Eight or nine years," said Sommet. It's been almost a decade so far. "They've been rather good," said Sommet.

But lately some bad has crept in courtesy of high gas prices. "Just like everywhere else, the prices have just jumped, almost doubled," said Sommet. Keeping garments pressed and cleaned takes lots of energy.

"The gas for the boiler has gone up quite a bit and electricity as well, just like other businesses," said Sommet. So we wondered about her business. Some would consider dry-cleaning a luxury item and these days, those are things many have to do without.

"Right," said Sommet, "actually we have not seen a lot of that yet. We've been very fortunate about that." That's good news for Lynn but the things that she cleans, William Livingston hasn't sold as much of these days.

"It makes being in business a challenge," said Livingston.

Livingston owns a store in downtown Albany. He says people don't have as much disposable income as before to shop for clothing. "So we as vendors and merchants have to be creative in coming up with sale prices," said Livingston.

The goal is to get customers to view clothing as more than a luxury item. "They're not going to purchase something they don't need but the weather puts you in a position where you're going to need lighter clothing," said Livingston.

Back at the dry-cleaners, Lynn Sommet is optimistic business will stay busy as people cut back on expenses. "I think people still want to look good," said Sommett.

Hopefully more clothing will start coming from Livingston's business, to spin around the rack as high gas prices continue to take customers to the cleaners.

Sommet says so far the gas prices haven't caused her to go up on prices but if they continue to get higher, that may change. They could cause a 10 to 15 percent increase for her customers.

Those customers may have to brace for that increase as some experts now predict gas will hit $4.50 a gallon this summer.

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