Gas Prices: How High Can We Go?

Just as the economy seems to be showing sustained signs of growth, will high gas prices put the kibosh on economic recovery? A recent Gallup poll asked Americans how high the cost of gasoline would have to rise to significantly impact their lifestyles and spending. On average, gas prices of $5.30 to $5.35 per gallon were cited as the "tipping point."

National average gas prices now stand at nearly $3.90 a gallon, but in many areas, that's been well over $4 for a while. But depending on where you live and who your target customers are, gas wouldn't have to climb all that much higher to cramp their style. Twenty-eight percent of respondents claim they would be forced to make significant spending cutbacks if gas prices were between $4 and $4.99; 31 percent report they would do so if prices were between $5 and $5.99.

Why it matters to your business: With reports that gas prices could top $5 a gallon in many areas by summer, you need to take steps now to plan for the possibility. You might need to offer greater discounts, provide delivery services or curbside pickup, offer ecommerce options so customers don't have to drive to your store or set up subscription purchase services so they can have products they buy regularly delivered by mail. All these options will cost you more money, so you'll need to figure out ways to tighten your business's belt.