Schenectady County

Gas price drop brings some relief

Average retail gasoline prices in the Capital Region have dropped 22.7 cents per gallon in the past

Average retail gasoline prices in the Capital Region have dropped 22.7 cents per gallon in the past month, according to That small amount of savings at the pump is providing relief for some businesses and consumers, but others say it’s not helping matters much.

Patre Kuziak, owner of Marcella’s, a restaurant and deli in Glenville, said lower gas prices are not necessarily welcome news for a neighborhood eatery like hers. When gas prices were higher, she said, people tended to dine closer to home. That has changed since gas prices have dipped. “On weekends, we aren’t as busy on a Saturday night because people will travel out to Albany or Crossgates, especially on a holiday weekend,” she said. “People are [saying], ‘Yeah, we can drive up to Vermont,’ or ‘We can go up to the Adirondacks.’ ”

But falling fuel prices are having some positive effects on Kuziak’s business, she said. She’s no longer paying a fuel surcharge on food shipments she receives from her suppliers. Her pizza delivery people, who receive a set fee per delivery, are also benefiting from the decrease in gas prices, she said. “They will be making more money now. It won’t all be going right into their gas tanks.”

A gallon of regular gasoline was $3.51 Monday afternoon at the Hess station on Freemans Bridge Road in Glenville. Consumer reaction to the lower price was mixed.

Averill Park resident Marty Peake, 18, who drives a 2011 Toyota Scion TC that averages a little under 30 miles per gallon, said the decline in gas prices has made him less conservative with his spending. “I do definitely have more money in my pocket,” the Schenectady County Community College student said. “I’m eating stuff at school instead of starving myself.”

Although some extra cash in the wallet is undoubtedly welcome, the relief Peake is experiencing should be kept in perspective, said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops, an association that advocates for about 400 service stations and repair shops in the Capital District, and 3,500 stations and shops statewide.

Despite the recent drop, he said, gas prices are still 80 cents to $1 per gallon higher than they were at this time last year. “We’re getting used to paying these higher prices,” he said, adding that prices are bound to increase again. “I’ve been around here for 40 years, and I’ve seen [gas prices] come up and down. As soon as they find an excuse to raise them, like somebody in Saudi Arabia got a sneeze, or some barge turned [over] on the Mississippi, as soon as they’ve got some excuse to make it look like there might be a disruption in supply, those prices will go up.”

Ruth Francisco of Scotia isn’t very enthusiastic about the price dip. “It’s actually better on the pocketbook, but it’s not helping because everything else is going up,” she said, as she gassed up her SUV at the Hess station. “I run a small business and my liability insurance went up over $700 a year.”

Although the dip in gas prices has not helped to lower Francisco’s insurance bill, it could translate into significant savings for consumers who plan to relocate, said Mike Arnoff, president of Arnoff Moving and Storage in Albany. The company has a fleet of 60 trucks, ranging from small delivery trucks to tractor-trailers. The trucks’ gas usage averages eight miles per gallon, so when prices are lower, costs decrease significantly, he said. “We pass the cost of fuel, or what in our industry is called a fuel surcharge, directly through to the client, so when the price of fuel comes down, there are charges that are removed from the transportation charges of the move.”

Arnoff also runs a storage facility where clients can house possessions while transitioning between homes. “The forklifts that we use to operate the warehouse run on fuel,” he said. “So there’s a direct effect on the [price of] storage services.”

Tom Mailey, spokesman for Stewart’s Shops, says the company’s Capital District gas stations have seen an increase in the amount of gas being sold at some locations but not all of them. Nearly three weeks ago, the company dropped gas prices at their local shops by a dime per gallon on all grades of gas, he reported.

That price break could be a contributing factor to increased sales, he said, but perhaps not the only one. “I think the weather had a good deal to do with it as well,” he said. “We’ve had a string of nice weather and with the [gas] price down a little bit, people are more likely to take that drive to go look at the foliage.”

Just as the string of nice weather is bound to end, the gas price forecast may not stay sunny for long. Last week, the price of wholesale gasoline jumped 11 cents, Mailey said, and Monday, the price went up 7 cents. “You can see the price up in crude as well,” he noted. “So there may be some changes coming.”

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