The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 28, 2008

Drop in gas prices not a benefit to all

DANVILLE — Dropping fuel prices are a boon to the consumer, but not the ray of sunshine expected for many local business owners.

Gas prices have dropped to totals not seen in a few years, as the price at the pump has dropped well below the $2 mark per gallon, ranging between $1.65 and $1.75 earlier this week. Like most holidays, prices did jump in anticipation of Thanksgiving holiday travel.

But the fuel price drop is almost one-sided. While gas moves downward by jumps, the price of diesel is taking a much conservative route. Recent prices in Danville averaged just under $2.90 per gallon earlier this week.

And grocery stores are dealing with the slow drop. Bob Porth, manager of Jerry’s IGA in Hoopeston, said suppliers haven’t dropped the surcharges added on to deliveries a few years ago with the original fuel increases.

The flat charge, as much as $20, wasn’t detrimental coming from the large supplies.

“But the smaller guys that do $10 for cases, (the surcharge) did have some effect on that,” Porth said. “We had to buy heavy and carry inventory longer.”

At Price-Less Foods in Danville, manager Mark Elliott said he has seen surcharges as a result of the slow drop of diesel, but understands the reasons.

“A lot of it stems from a lot of the cost doing business,” he said.

Elliott pointed out that while the slow diesel drop is costing businesses like his money, there’s another side to the fuel pricing that may cause more of a dent in profits for local establishments. With gas prices topping the $4 mark, people were less eager to drive.

“When the prices were higher, that helped out business more,” Elliott said. “That kept people from going to Champaign or elsewhere.

“Now, as they’ve dropped” people may be willing to drive to out of county competitors, he said.

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