High gas and food prices hurt Bay Area

April 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The cost of basic necessities is rising rapidly. We're paying more for food and for gas. The nationwide average reached $3.51 a gallon on Monday, which is 10 cents higher than the inflation-factored price of $3.41, set in March 1981. Gasoline in San Francisco now sells for an average of $3.98 a gallon and much higher for supreme and diesel.

Nick Martin, owner of the Mustard Cafe in San Jose, never thought the down economy would take such a toll on his life's dream. His business is barely breaking even.

"My rice, my salt, my flour has all gone up in price," says Martin.

Everything is on the line for this first time restaurateur. With just about every ingredient in his cakes rising, the side business Martin thought would balance out his struggling cafe's bottom line, is also suffering.

Gas prices are hurting his catering and delivery business.

"It's so expensive just to fill this tank right now, it worries me," says Martin.

According to the Energy Information Administration, gas costs about 40 cents more per gallon in the Bay Area, than in the rest of the country.

"We're definitely a driving community and so our demand for gas is more than perhaps a smaller mid western town," says Professor of finance Janis Zaima, Ph.D., from San Jose State University.

Zaima explains the law of supply and demand is causing the price for commodities to sky rocket. While the global demand for fuel, wheat, and rice is going up, the supply isn't.

Up until a few weeks ago, the Costco here in Santa Clara, had two areas filled with rice. And now, there's only one, forcing store managers to put up a sign asking people to conserve.

"We are asking members to keep their normal shopping habits, so if you normally purchase 1 or 2 bags for your house, we're asking members to respect that," says Abe Acosta, a Costco Assistant Manager.

"Seems like it's affecting wholesale distributors as well, it's a surprise to me that Costco is affected," says Shiv Kutty, a Santa Clara resident.

While the new signs are causing shoppers to pause and take notice, Costco officials insist, they won't stop customers who ignore their request. They say the limitation is not a corporate wide policy, it's simply a sign of the times.


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