Record $4 gas siphoning small businesses’ profits

Expect to see higher prices, fuel surcharges

$4 a gallon of gas is the latest whammy to hit small businesses where it hurts - the bottom line.

Nearly every day, Chef John De Leon loads up his catering vehicles to deliver lunch. Problems is, gas prices are eating his.

He runs Star Catering, a small business with five employees and a lot of hungry clients. But feeding his delivery truck cost him more than a $100 this week. He also has two vans making the rounds.

“On the vans, it was like $35. Now, it’s 80 to 90 to fill up,” De Leon said.

Being on the road is De Leon’s business. He’s considered changing vehicles, but right now that’s more easily said that done. The price of gas is just the latest whammy on top of the pandemic and inflation.

“As the price of gas goes up, so does all the commodities,” he said.

The beef, poultry and other staples he purchases to whip up his popular dishes are all way up in price. De Leon said he’s already had to raise his prices and some fuel surcharges. It’s a balancing act for a small business.

“I just can’t keep doing it because they don’t have to order from me,” he said.

Luis Mireles feels his pain. He stocked up on a truckload of eggs and other groceries for his small taco shop. Then he filled his tank. It was $81.

“It’s too much,” he said.

Mireles, too, said he’s had to raise the price of a taco.

It’s not just small businesses feeling the pinch.

Commuters are paying more to get to their jobs. Now, with gas averaging $3.99 in San Antonio, according to GasBuddy.com, the numbers add up fast. Drivers with a 15-gallon tank are paying nearly $10 more for a tank of gas than they were one week ago.

Prices have been on a jolting climb, rising 60 cents a gallon in one week and 90 cents a gallon in the past month.

“It’s getting ridiculous,” said Michael Martinez, who like his wife, commutes to work.

“Now, it’s about 100 bucks a piece just going back and forth,” he said.

Martinez is not sure how long they can keep it up. After all, with gas at nearly $4 a gallon, it costs a driver nearly $1 to drive six miles.

How high prices will go and for how long is difficult to predict because oil prices are volatile as the Russian conflict rages on. The spring surge in demand is also pushing prices up, analysts say.

As for De Leon, he got through the pandemic. He expects to navigate the gas woes, too.

“Eventually, hopefully, they’ll change,” he said.

Also on KSAT.com:

Where to find the least expensive gas in San Antonio and how to get the best gas mileage


About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.