When gas prices first started to skyrocket after the war began, people went into a panic. This panic was great for the hybrid car market, but not so good for anyone else. People are deciding against going to the movies or purchasing items that are not absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, these decisions based on the price of gas have some long-standing effects on the economy.
In my family, the high gas prices (I paid $3.29 a gallon yesterday) have not yet significantly changed where we live and work, but they have changed how we play. Since we work a combined 2-hour daily commute from our jobs, we have learned to streamline everything we do. For instance, instead of heading straight home after work, stopping off for errands became the norm. Instead of concerning ourselves with the quickest way home, we drive the most gas-efficient ways home. Avoiding stoplights and stop-and-go traffic became more important than anything else, and the goal is to avoid having to fill the tank up as much as possible. However, I’m loath to say that this is a negative repercussion. In fact, this may be a move towards becoming a “greener” household.
Obviously, negative outcomes exist as a result of higher gas prices. We have always combined our gas and grocery bill for ease of record keeping, and have had to cut back on the number of groceries we buy in order to accommodate the higher gas prices. This means cutting back on non-essentials, and, in some cases, eliminating them completely. We eat out less often because of high gas prices for a number of reasons: we do not have quite as much disposable income due to the increased gas expenditure and we do not wish to spend gas driving to a restaurant location.
Long-term pet enthusiasts, my family went from having a thriving pet population to virtually no pets. Some of this came from the decreased amount of resources in terms of cash and time due to the birth of our daughter, but a larger portion came from the utter lack of viable pet stores in the area. Only large chains can exist in this time of high gas prices. Vendors increase prices to the stores (which, in turn, increases prices to the customer) to accommodate high gas prices. Customers are less likely to spend their dwindling income on frivolities in general, and pets are an unnecessary expenditure. Other industries suffer similarly: when was the last time you found a craft store that was not a big chain?
Even the big chains are suffering. Companies that seemed secure in their longevity are going out of business, declaring bankruptcy and/or disappearing at a steady clip. The only chains that do not suffer are the gas companies. In the same breath, reporters announce the increasing gas prices and the record profits for gas companies. The public tries to turn a blind eye, but people are suffering. Perhaps turning a blind eye to the high gas prices simply cannot be done anymore.