On the rise: Gas prices begin climbing, consumers watching

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Gas prices in Northeast Mississippi are spilling past the $3 per gallon mark, but motorists are not panicking – yet.
This time last week Raymond Steele filled his Ford F-250 pickup truck at Kroger at Crosstown for what he called a “whopping” $2.97 a gallon – a price he though ridiculous at the time.
When he pulled in at the same gas station Friday, he said the $3.02 per gallon price tag on regular unleaded fuel didn’t make him happy, but it didn’t surprise him either.
“I saw it coming from a mile away,” said Steele, who lives in Tupelo but works in Aberdeen five days a week. “But what can you do about it? Gotta go to work, gotta go to church, gotta get around, so whether it’s $1 or $5 a gallon, I gotta have it.”
Steele did say he won’t enjoy driving much until the price at the pump goes down a little.
According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.15, about three cents higher than it was this time last week. This time in 2010 the national average was $2.61 per gallon.
The average per-gallon price for Mississippi currently is $3.02. Last week this time the average price was $2.99 and this time last year it was only $2.50.
Melissa Kellum pulled into Dodge’s on West Main Street after driving past several other gas stations in an effort to find lower prices.
“It’s bad enough to pay $2.99 for gas but I’m not paying $3 until I have to,” said Kellum. “My husband makes fun of me because I waste more gas than the one cent I save by riding around and looking for cheaper gas. I don’t think it’s panic mode as for these gas prices now, but summer isn’t even here yet so it’s going to get worse.”
People gassing up at Wild Bill’s in Sherman filled up for $2.94 a gallon. The only other place in the area cheaper than Sherman is Fulton’s Murphy at $2.93 a gallon.
Even though he doesn’t live in Sherman and doesn’t have to travel near there to get to work, Tupelo’s Melvin Riley said he always gets his gas from Wild Bill’s.
And with the prices in much of the area sitting at more than $3 a gallon, he said he doesn’t see that routine changing any time soon.
“Eight cents adds up when it comes to saving on gas,” said Riley. “So driving an extra few miles to get a much better deal isn’t a bad trip for me. I don’t think we should all start to panic because the gas prices have spiked a bit right now, but I definitely think we need to keep an eye on it. Especially since people don’t know what is causing it to go up this time.”
According to Don Redman, spokesman for AAA, escalating violence and unrest in the Middle East is causing the price hike. Oil prices this week increased by nearly $5 from the start of the week, rising from $84.81 on Monday to $89.71 a barrel by week’s end.
“Despite continued bearish fundamental data for gasoline, including stocks hitting a 20-year high, the price at the pump has done little more than slow its steady climb of the last several months,” said Redman.
It is unclear when, or if, prices will start to go back down.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.