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November 28, 2022

65% of Virginia businesses say gas prices significantly hurt recovery

Rising gas prices are having a significant negative impact on the economic recoveries of nearly two-thirds of Virginia small businesses, according to a poll released by the small business organization Alignable.

“Nearly two out of three Virginian small business owners (65%) told us they’ve been very significantly affected by the elevated gas prices over the past couple of weeks,” Chuck Casto, the head of research and news at Alignable.com, told The Center Square.

“While the average for the U.S. was even higher — 68% — the pain at the pump felt by Virginia’s small business owners is still quite severe, and has impacted their margins, making their recovery slower than it was earlier this year,” Casto said.

The average cost for a gallon of gas in Virginia is slightly more than $4.10 as of Wednesday, according to AAA data. Some localities in northern Virginia are reporting averages higher than $4.20 cents per gallon. Just one month ago, the average statewide cost was less than $3.44 per gallon and one year ago, the average was less than $2.73 per gallon.

Some Virginia-based business associations have said that high gas prices, combined with worker shortages and rising inflation, are all having negative impacts on their members.

“There’s no question that higher gas prices are a challenge for small business owners,” Julia Hammond, the Virginia state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, told The Center Square. The NFIB is the largest small business association in the country.

“This latest financial burden is just the latest of a host of problems for our already struggling entrepreneurs who are already facing rising inflation, problems hiring workers, and supply chain disruptions,” Hammond said. “Our small business owners here in Virginia are resilient and ready made to maneuver obstacles, but when you put all the obstacles together, it could equal disaster for mom-and-pop shops across the Commonwealth.”

Businesses that rely on tourism, such as hotels and restaurants in some areas, are being negatively impacted because high gas prices discourage people from traveling, according to Robert Melvin, the director of government affairs at the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association.

Melvin told The Center Square that most Virginia travel destinations are accessed through driving rather than flying, such as Virginia Beach and the peninsula.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin and legislative Republicans have proposed plans to provide some relief at the pump through alleviating the gas tax. A Republican proposal to suspend the recent five-cent gas tax increase until July 1, 2023, failed to garner support from the Democrat-controlled Senate. However, the governor plans to propose a different bill, which would create a three-month gas tax holiday, during the upcoming special session. This would suspend the state’s full 26.2-cent-per-gallon tax for that time period.

Both the NFIB and the VRLTA support gas tax relief.

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