Gas Prices Near Point of Hurting Profits for Florida's Restaurants, Hotels
Around the State
Florida’s tourism leader anticipates people will modify their driving habits, without the desire to travel, as gas pump prices are marching toward the point where some motorists start making “extensive” changes.
As of Sunday, gas prices in Florida averaged $3.42 a gallon, up 2 cents from a week earlier and 21 cents from the end of June. The current mark is 7 cents below the national mark and 2 cents higher than in Georgia.
The motor club AAA projects that motoring habits will begin to change for a sizable number of people once the pump tops $3.50 a gallon.
Chris Thompson, Visit Florida president, said Tuesday that despite the increase in gas prices, people will want to travel -- they just alter their vacation plans.
“It has not hit levels yet, even in the worst case scenario lately, to where it has deterred people from traveling,” Thompson told members of the Economic Club of Florida at a luncheon in the Leon County Civic Center.
“People will still come, they’ll still drive, they’ll spend more for gas, but they’ll just adjust elsewhere.”
The places where the adjustments will be made – restaurants and hotels -- make up other parts of the state’s dominant service industry that last year handled 85.9 million visitors.
“They’ll stay at a lesser hotel, eat out one less time; they’ll change their patterns, versus canceling a trip,” Thompson said.
A year ago, Floridians were paying on average $3.72 a gallon, a penny less than the national figure.
According to a AAA consumer survey, nearly one in four motorists start to make “extensive behavior modifications” as the average stands between $3.50 a gallon and $4 a gallon.
A bigger change comes once prices top $4 a gallon, when one in three motorists surveyed anticipate changes to driving habits.
Other AAA consumer survey findings:
Top three things consumers have cut back on as a direct result of increased gas prices:
• Shopping for pleasure (47 percent).
• Dining out at restaurants (44 percent).
• Going out for lunch during the week (35 percent).
Top four things consumers do to make up for the increased expense of gasoline:
• Drive less (48 percent).
• Consolidate errands (44 percent).
• Budget better (35 percent).
• Cut back on discretionary expenses (33 percent).
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.