Are Consumers Running on Empty?

Mar 11, 2003

By George Anderson

The high price of gas is beginning to crimp America’s driving style and a summer
shortage might cause the economy to run out of gas.

An Associated Press report says the situation is especially critical
in California where prices at the pump have jumped to an average of $2.06 a

Last week, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer called for the General Accounting Office
(GAO) to look into reports that an unusually high number of refineries were
off line for maintenance. The senator expressed concerned that the current activities
of the oil companies would lead to gasoline shortages and higher prices.

Bloomberg News recently reported the chairman of ConocoPhillips, Archie
Dunham was predicting a gasoline shortage for the summer months.

Moderator’s Comment: Are retailers seeing a noticeable
change in consumer behavior as gas prices increase? How would a gasoline shortage
impact retail operations?

Saudi Arabia has pledged to keep the oil pumping to help
offset supply problems caused by a war with Iraq. The White House has said it
will dip into the country’s oil reserves if needed. So, why can we not get the
memory of long lines at gas stations during the seventies’ oil embargo out of
our head? [George
Anderson – Moderator

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