Rising gas prices can be stifling for all of us, but the effects for small businesses can be much worse. Numerous factors play into the negative outcome that spikes in gas prices can bring to small businesses. Companies that rely on local transportation and delivery as a large part of their profit can be hit very hard.
David Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas stated, “Spring is a difficult time for drivers, when gas prices typically rise due to refinery maintenance. The tightened supply throughout the country results in higher gas prices.” An increase in prices can also be correlated to the higher demand of drivers after the brutal winter most of the country experienced this year. Seasonal maintenance at refineries is an additional factor for increasing gas prices.
Small businesses that are already competing with large conglomerates have a more difficult time coping with the spike in gas prices that can come seasonally. Delivery costs for businesses that base much of their profit on the transportation of their product suffer exponentially when gas prices increase. They look for other ways to cut costs which can come as cutbacks, shorter business hours, even moving manufacturing out of the United States to countries such as Asia. For some small businesses, an increase in gas prices may mean an increase in the cost of their product to make up the difference.
Fuel usage is a major expense for small, local companies. Especially businesses that focus on packing and delivery as the main source of their profits can be highly affected by soaring gas prices. The arrival of spring can mean greater business and easier travel for small companies, particularly after this year's horrendous winter weather. Increased gas prices work against this potential of growth for small companies.
The trend that gas prices generally follow is to rise in the spring, come back down around Memorial Day, and then increase again through the summer. Businesses must find ways to work around the spikes and sustained rises. By cutting costs, carpooling, organizing deliveries accordingly, and preparing ahead of time, local companies can generate as much profit as possible during the high-cost period. Although they adjust, small businesses are one of the sectors of the economy most affected by gas spikes. And since much of business consists of small businesses, this problem affects all of us.