The average national price of gas rose over the last week to $2.98 a gallon, up from $2.90, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Although specialists say prices have probably peaked for the month, the price at the pump is now 35 cents a gallon higher than a year ago.
The Oil Price Information Service has estimated that consumers will pay $34 billion this month for gasoline, up from about $27.6 billion in December 2009 — money that might have been spent on holiday shopping.
Michael P. Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said that retailers did not yet appear to have been significantly hurt by higher gasoline prices. “It doesn’t seem to matter that much because we are getting accelerating economic activity, which is an offset,” he said.
Mr. Niemira also noted that the top 20 percent of households with the most income accounted for nearly 40 percent of retail spending, and that group had benefited from a rising stock market over the last year.
The rest of us don't have money to buy very many Christmas presents this year. Perhaps the rising cost of gas thanks to oil speculation might have something to do with it.