We've watched as gas prices have climbed rapidly over the past three months. While we here in New Hampshire aren't seeing the highest prices in the nation (or New England) they are approaching the highs seen in 2008. Yesterday I filled up the trusty F150 for $3.69 per gallon. The highest price I saw today here in central New Hampshire for 87-octane gas was $3.75. Highs elsewhere in the nation top $4. Some are expecting gas to hit as much as $6 this summer.
As painful as the rising gas prices are, some side effects are being felt elsewhere in the economy.
Deb and I went grocery shopping at our local chain supermarket today. One of the first things Deb noticed was many food prices were higher than only two weeks ago. Much higher. Most of that can be directly attributable to higher transportation costs because of rising fuel prices.
The higher gas prices are also expected to have a negative effect on the summer tourist season. The last time prices were this high a lot of families changed vacation plans, staying closer to home. In 2008 we saw a lot more 'local' folks vacationing here rather than the usual people from elsewhere in the US and Canada. Boat traffic on the lake was down considerably because marine gas prices approached $5 per gallon. I have no doubt we'll see the same thing this summer, only worse.
As the higher gas prices have hit everyone in the wallet, people have been cutting back in other areas to make up for it. One of the biggest areas where people are cutting back is eating out. It's one of the 'luxuries' most of us can do without and one of the first thing people cut out when money is tight. Other than some of the ice cream stands, most restaurants will be taking a double hit of higher prices for the food they prepare and fewer customers to fill their tables.
It's not going to be a good summer for most of us.