Drivers cut back to make up for higher gas prices

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As prices at the pump continue to climb, they are taking an even bigger chunk of change out of drivers' wallets. AAA says the average price in the Palmetto State is up 82 cents from this same time last year.

The prices are up about a nickel this week alone.

When drivers spend more money at the pump, they'll probably consider spending less money on things like eating at restaurants or going to the movies.

Dr. Robert Salvino, an economist at CCU, studies these trends. He says, while some people might think about making those cuts, those aren't usually the first things to go.

"We really like to cut back on things that we don't necessarily get great enjoyment from, if we get great enjoyment from eating out and from other things like that, then we'll try to cut those second or third," Salvino explained.

Salvino says people are more likely to cut back on unnecessary trips around town.

But a lot of times, the decisions are more difficult than not going out on a Friday night.|

The prices have gotten so bad that Daniel Cuevas has taken his job search online, so he won't waste fuel driving around town, looking for work.

"Trying to do things on the internet right now, instead of moving the car around," said Cuevas.

For folks who already have jobs, cutting back on driving isn't an option. Caleb Carter has to get to work.

"You can't drive less, so you're more conscious of how you drive, try to conserve the gas that you have to use anyway," explained Carter.

Salvino says, right now drivers are dealing with two kinds of increases at the pump, short term and long term.

As far as the long term effects go, Salvino says the big suppliers of crude oil are in the Middle East, so any time there's turmoil there, prices here will go up.

Then there's also the short term effect that hits during the summer driving season, when higher demand forces the prices to go up. Salvino says typically you can expect to pay about 10 to 20 cents more for a gallon of gas during the summer months.

He says, drivers can expect to see these prices climb even higher than the numbers drivers are seeing on signs right now, as the summer season gets closer.

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