- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

Local gasoline prices have climbed 12 cents per gallon in the past month, but motorists say that won’t change their holiday shopping habits.

“We’re taking a punch on everything,” said D.C. resident Rodolfo Anorcha. “Everything is more expensive these days. A loaf of bread is more expensive, a six-pack of beer is more expensive, restaurants are more expensive, and it’s because the distributors have raised prices due to the increase of gas prices.”

Despite Mr. Anorcha’s frustration with the rising cost of fuel, he said it won’t affect his holiday shopping.

“I’m not a high user of gas, so it won’t have a big effect on my personal budget, but [it will affect] people in the outlying suburbs of Virginia and Maryland who may be paying more than $40 for gas a week.”

The national average for a gallon of gasoline is $2.29, a 6-cent increase from a month ago when gasoline cost an average of $2.23 per gallon.

D.C. drivers are hit particularly hard, with prices rising 5.5 percent to $2.29 from $2.17 a month ago.

The average motorist in the Washington region drives 15,000 miles a year, according to the AAA Mid-Atlantic auto club.

Assuming this year’s average price of gasoline was about $2.59 and the average commuter to the District drives 15,000 miles a year, area drivers can expect to pay $1,300 to $2,300 on fuel this year, depending on their car’s miles-per-gallon rating.

D.C. resident Elizabeth Gill opted to skip the holiday traffic and parking nightmares this year by shopping for all of her gifts online.

“I never like paying more for gas, but I’m fortunate that gas prices won’t affect my shopping habits,” she said yesterday.

Some residents expect cutbacks on Christmas spending because of the an increase in fuel prices .

“If you’re on a limited budget, it will affect how many presents you are likely to buy,” said Mike Cifone, a D.C. resident who said he is fed up with gas prices.

“Those who are going to be most affected by the rising cost of gas will be those in the lower echelon,” said AAA spokesman John Townsend, referring to motorists on a tight budget.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which controls about one-third of the world’s oil, cut production 4 percent at the beginning of November.

“As a result, the price of crude has increased and we have 1.2 million less barrels of crude on the market,” Mr. Townsend said.

The price for a barrel of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange reached a nine-week high of $63.82 on Dec. 4.

Crude oil closed at $61.22 yesterday, up from $60 per barrel the day before Thanksgiving, the Energy Information Administration said.

“The rising prices affect my transportation costs to the mall,”said Carlos Natera, a D.C. resident. “So they will definitely affect the way that I do my shopping over the holidays.

“But, then again, I’m from Venezuela, so I think the rising prices are great,” he joked.

Venezuela is the only member of OPEC in the Western Hemisphere.

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