Gas prices hit all-time high for Labor Day

September 3, 2012 10:10:22 PM PDT
Gas prices are at their highest ever for a Labor Day. Average prices for a gallon of regular gas in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco are between $4.17-$4.24. Those prices are starting to chip away at SUV sales.

SUV sales are down 70 percent according to Kelley Blue Book analysts, who say over the last five years, buyers have departed from SUVs. However, at dealerships in the Bay Area, that's not the case. In fact, at Stewart Auto Dealership in Colma, some customers are finding out the SUVs they want are virtually sold out.

"We're pretty much sold out of the Liberties. We have maybe a few Wranglers left. As we were speaking, there was a customer that asked, 'Hey, where's this particular one?' And we sold it a couple days ago," said Stewart Auto sales manager Michael Keylin.

Analysts at Kelley Blue Book show numbers that paint a starkly different picture.

"SUV sales are down across the board. In fact, if you were to compare sales today-- through the first seven months of the year to the first seven months of 2007 -- sales are down about 70 percent. So it's pretty significantly," said Alec Gutierrez from Kelley Blue Book.

In 2007 there were 718,606 SUVs that were sold. That same time this year, that number plummeted to 198,930. Kelley Blue Book analysis points to the pump as the culprit.

"Every time gas prices fluctuate, whether that's a significant spike upward like we're seeing today, or a significant drop off like what occurred in late 2008, early 2009-- after the first time fuel prices spiked up-- we see a tremendous shift in purchase behavior by consumers," said Gutierrez.

Gas prices hit an all-time high for Labor Day weekend. The nationwide average for a gallon of regular gas is at $3.80 a gallon. Of course here in the Bay Area, we're looking at prices about 40 cents more than that. Daly City resident Jim Whitsell says he has to fill his family's SUV.

"Yes, still have to. Not a choice here, really," said Whitsell. "You have to work it out somehow."

"You know what? Because traveling is a real need, you suffer the consequences. You don't think about the high prices because you need it," said Daly City resident Oscar Faramiran.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Experts say by the end of September, these gas prices will start to drop soon, but two things have to happen first -- workers have to return to full production on the oil rigs on the Gulf and prices will drop one the summer driving season winds down.


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