As Gas Prices Increase, Small Business Owners are Feeling the Pinch

by Courtlyn Ward, Attorney

Americans are in the midst of an inflationary period in the U.S. economy. Gas prices are rising even though the costs faced by the oil and gas companies have decreased in recent years. The federal government called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate, but that takes time, meaning small business owners are feeling the pinch.

Anti-trust issues

The two largest oil and gas companies are set to double their net income over 2019 and the gap between unfinished gasoline and the price at the pump continues to increase. The FTC has a detailed plan to increase scrutiny and enforcement of the oil and gas industry, including a focus on mergers, particularly involving any of the larger companies. A heightened focus on refineries, wholesalers, pipeline owners and petroleum marketers is also expected. The petroleum industry as a whole has enjoyed many decades of avoiding the crosshairs of the antitrust regulatory bodies, but with the increase in scrutiny from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FTC, clients that are considering transactions in this industry may want to seek counsel from an experienced antitrust attorney.

Be strategic to save on fuel costs

Construction, maintenance, transportation, delivery…these types of small businesses are on the road every day and see the costs directly. All other small businesses are impacted by the cost of gas every time they ship an order or make another trip out to the warehouse. The good news: There are effective methods currently helping businesses trim some fuel cost spending.

  • Use a gas rewards program. These are available from credit card companies, warehouse clubs and supermarkets. Pick the best one for your business and use it loyally.
  • Evaluate shipping expenses. Can you use less expensive shipping supplies? Do you need to ship everything? Consolidate shipments when possible.
  • Go digital. Hold more meetings virtually. Or make a phone call instead of driving across town.
  • Use a gas app. Gas Guru or Gasbuddy will find the least expensive gas that is close to you.

The FTC and the Department of Justice will do their part to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for high gas prices at the pump. Unfortunately, that process might take years. In the meantime, business owners can take a hard look at their expenses to identify opportunities to save at the pump.