Florida gas prices could approach $3 per gallon by the summer

TAMPA, FL – On average, you’re paying $8 more for a tank of gas than you were this time last year, and AAA expects prices will rise as much as 70 cents per gallon by summer. Compared year to year, Florida’s average gas price is up 54 cents from one year ago.

That’s an extra shot in the budget for small business owners like Eftchios Xanthoudakis, who owns Samaria Cafe in downtown Tampa. He says he didn’t benefit from last year’s lower gas prices.

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“Most big companies we get supplies from charged us a fuel surcharge when gas prices went up, and they never took it back,” he says. And now, there’s news that gas prices could go up as much as 70 cents a gallon by the summer, according to AAA, which looks at trends in gas prices. Historically, prices bump up between February and Memorial Day, as refineries power down.

“Last year gas prices rose 60 cents in 100 days, but we don’t anticipate a spike overnight,” says Mark Jenkins of AAA.

Spike or not, a 60 or 70 cent increase in gas prices means a lot to businesses like the Samaria Cafe, which gets all of its supplies from vendors. Xanthoudakis says even if gas prices do go up to three dollars a gallon, he won’t pass that cost along to the customers, and instead will take the hit himself.

“Every time they increase cost, we can’t pass that along to the customers,” says Xanthoudakis.

If there’s any good news, it’s that Tampa is currently the state’s least expensive metro market, with gas prices averaging $2.17 per gallon.

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