A rapid rise in gasoline prices in recent weeks has enraged some motorists.
Prior to the recent price increases, drivers were paying about $1.50 per liter in the BC interior. Now the prices are closer to $2 a liter here in Summerland. It’s a little cheaper in the Salmon Arm area, but more expensive in Vancouver.
Currently, the price of regular unleaded gasoline here in Summerland is $1.989 per litre. A 50 liter fill will cost me $99.45. This is down from a few days earlier, when the price at the pump reached $2.149 per litre.
Gasoline prices are now four times higher than they were when I moved to Summerland in 1994, and more than 12 times higher than the prices I remember when I was young.
Today’s gas prices are high enough that I think carefully every time I start the car. But other products are much more expensive than gasoline, and those prices don’t cause the same level of anxiety and outrage as high gasoline prices.
Milk is a staple in many households and right now a two-liter container of milk costs $4.49, or $2.245 per liter. Filling a 50 liter tank with milk would cost me $112.25. Alternatives, such as soy milk, tend to cost significantly more than cow’s milk.
A 2.63 liter container of orange juice costs $7.99 here, which equates to $3.038 per liter. Buying 50 liters of orange juice would cost $151.90.
If I want mouthwash, a 500 milliliter bottle would cost $3.49, which equals $6.98 per liter. Filling up on 50 liters of mouthwash costs $349.
If I stop at a cafe and order a large 20 ounce coffee, the price translates to $5.644 per liter, or $282.20 for a 50 liter tank.
The High Efficiency Liquid Laundry Detergent costs $11.99 for a 1.36 liter bottle. It’s $8.816 per liter, or $440.80 for 50 liters.
Paint is much more expensive than gasoline. A 3.64 liter can of interior acrylic latex paint is on sale for $42.47, or $11.668 per liter. That works out to $583.40 for 50 liters.
Perfume can be quite expensive, and one sale price I saw was $19.95 for a 75 milliliter bottle. That’s $266.533 per litre, or $13,326.65 to fill a 50 liter tank with this scent. I’m glad my car doesn’t run on scent.
It is not a fair comparison to equate gasoline with milk, orange juice, a cup of coffee, paint or perfume. Few customers would buy 50 liters of milk every two weeks, and buying 50 liters of interior paint is excessive unless someone is undertaking a big project.
I have never seen anyone leave a store with 50 liters of mouthwash or order 50 liters of freshly brewed coffee from their favorite coffee shop.
At the same time, gas stations display their prices at the pump, but the prices of other products are not displayed in the same way. Due to large signs showing the cost of gas, any change in gas prices will attract a lot of attention.
Rising gas prices are one indicator of the cost of living, but fuel isn’t the only thing to watch. The cost of groceries and the cost of housing have a much more tangible effect. The prices of common consumer goods are also an important indicator of the cost of living.
It is possible to reduce fuel consumption by planning trips, carpooling, walking, cycling or working from home, but people need to eat and have shelter.
Rising gas prices have caught the attention of many motorists, but it’s not the only price to watch.
John Arendt is the editor of Summerland Review.
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