Local small business owners, food delivery drivers weigh in on impacts of rising gas prices

Posted at 2:47 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 18:28:45-05

YORKTOWN, Va. — Rising gas prices have been one of the most noticeable local impacts from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As prices continue to soar, it's putting the pressure on people who live in Hampton Roads.

Small businesses that rely on gas to fuel their services say they're feeling the pain at the pump. One Yorktown man says this is the first time his business has taken a hard hit in 42 years.

"Receiving product, we're getting hammered on fuel surcharges. We have eight different vans on the road now, and we're paying between $75 and $150 more per week," said Dominic Velardi, the owner of Dominion Floor Covering.

Dominion Floor Covering has been serving the community for more than three decades, but Velardi said he has now had to cut back on his services.

"The big difference is we've tried to minimize our geographical imprint, trying to keep most of our business on the Peninsula and the Southside, whereas before we went from the Outer Banks to Richmond," Velardi said.

With close to 10 delivery drivers, Velardi said his drivers sometimes have to use their own vehicles to make deliveries, leading him to make some necessary changes for his drivers along the way.

"We supplement their income with an increase, or like a subsidy, for lack of a better term, to offset the cost of gas," Velardi said.

According to AAA, the average gas prices in Hampton Roads are around $3.58. However, some stations are selling them as high as $3.99, and experts said prices could tick even higher if tensions continue between Ukraine and Russia.

Rising gas prices mean rising delivery costs for business owners like Velardi.

"It's insane, it's gone up about 10%" Velardi said.

Meanwhile, Gary Logan, an Uber Eats and DoorDash driver, spends up to eight hours a day delivering food, but recently the majority of his funds have gone straight into purchasing fuel.

"If I make maybe $200 that day, like, that's basically $150. You're cutting it back, and then tips, they're not increasing, right? They're going up the same rate as before gas went up. It's difficult there," Logan said.

Causing him to calculate how far away he is and how long it's going to take to get there to decide if it's worth him going 15 minutes away to make deliveries.

"I'm going to look into DoorDash or Uber Eats for mileage. We're providing service to them, right? Because it's getting hard," Logan said.

AAA offers the following tips on how to save on fuel while on the road:

  • Tires & maintenance – Keep your vehicle in top shape with routine inspections and in between, make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Plan ahead – Map your route before you go to minimize unnecessary turnarounds and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times. Combine errands and go to "one-stop shops” where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.).
  • Watch your speed – Fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speeds increase. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.
  • Avoid excessive idling – A car engine consumes one quarter to one-half gallon of fuel per hour when idling, but a warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. Where safe to do so, shut off your engine if you will be stopped for more than a minute.
  • Use "fast pass" or “express” toll lanes – Avoiding unnecessary stops or slowdowns on the highway helps save fuel.
  • Avoid rush hour – Take advantage of flex work hours to avoid commuting during peak traffic times.
  • Anticipate road conditions – Watch the traffic ahead and "time" stoplights to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary stop and go.
  • Regular vs. Premium – If regular gas is recommended for your vehicle, that’s all you need. Opting for premium when your car doesn’t require it will only cost you money and doesn’t improve fuel economy.
  • Shop around & save – To find the best gas price in your area, use the AAA Mobile App. AAA Members should enroll in Shell’s Fuel Rewards program to save 30 cents per gallon on their first fill-up and 5 cents per gallon on each additional fill-up.