Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Where is the Other Relief?

During the run up in gas prices since 2009, we saw a corresponding increase in the prices of other goods and services--usually blamed on "increased transportation costs".  Pizza places started delivery charges, airlines added bag fees to account for the extra weight on planes (and resulting fuel consumption), and tour companies added "fuel surcharges" to their prices as well.  Food prices were hit especially hard, as the cost of getting all of those items "to market" was jacked up on both ends.  It looked like a situation that we would all have to face forever, because everyone knew we were never going to see $2 a gallon gas ever again.

But then, the Saudis decided that they were going to try and put all of the shale oil drillers and frackers out of business by boosting their own production and causing a dramatic drop in gas prices over the past few months.  Couple that with decreased demand due to continued weak economic performance in the bankrupt European Union and you have an average price for gas here in the Fox Valley of $1.98 a gallon.

So where are the resulting drop in prices for everything else?  I am yet to see the airlines announce big fare drops (which would actually frustrate me since we have purchased all of our flights for our trip next month at what would be higher prices)--or the end of baggage fees (which I would welcome in a heartbeat for our trip).  The pizza joints aren't dropping the delivery charges.  And the boat and helicopter tour companies we have booked with in Hawaii didn't send me any emails yet saying they are refunding the fuel surcharges since those expenses have gone down 40% in the past two months.

I'm not noticing any lower prices at the grocery store either.  Milk is coming down--but that is more of a reaction to increased production around the world--not to a lower cost to truck it from the farm to the dairy to the store.  Corn prices are going down too on the markets (thanks to decreased planting for ethanol use)--but my Frosted Flakes aren't getting any cheaper either.

I know what the excuse is going to be: "Well, we consider this to be a temporary reduction in fuel expenses, and everyone knows those prices are going back up over $4 again someday, so it would be 'imprudent' to lower our prices now--only to increase them again in a few months."  It's just frustrating that the price increases always seem to be "permanent"--no matter how long they actually need to be in place.

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