BELOIT—The rising costs of consumer goods from gas to groceries nationwide has impacted people everywhere, including here in the Beloit area, as residents and visitors grapple with prices not seen in decades.
Caused by rising inflation at a 40-year high and the growing conflict stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, energy prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks. The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported on Wednesday that the national average price of gas is $3.65 per gallon, up from $2.72 per gallon in March of 2021.
In the Beloit and Janesville area, AAA reports the average price for a gallon of gas on Wednesday was $3.39, up from $2.58 per gallon in the spring of 2021 with the state average reflecting a similar increase. Wisconsin reported the average price of gas was $3.41 per gallon on Wednesday, up from $2.62 per gallon in March of 2021. The average is still lower than that of Illinois’, with the state reporting a current per-gallon price of $3.92 compared to $2.89 in March of 2021.
The highest price of gasoline reported to AAA in the Beloit and Janesville area came on May 6, 2011 when $4.10 per gallon was reported.
In the Rockford area, gas prices are currently averaging $3.82 per gallon compared to $2.87 in March of last year.
Nicole Banker, a manager at Corneiller Superstore in Beloit, has seen gas prices rise and fall since she started working there in 1997, but she said the recent price fluctuations are unique.
“Normally you raise it a few cents here and there, but the last few weeks it’s been way up and that adds up when you start having to raise it daily more than a few cents,” Banker said. “That’s usually not the norm.”
She said Corneiller’s and other independent gas stations in the area don’t typically make a high profit on gasoline sales, adding that the high price of gas is something people are just having to deal with.
“You have to use it for whatever you have to do, from going to work or getting kids to school,” Banker said. “You can’t avoid it.”
The busy Wisconsin tourism and travel season is expected to start around Memorial Day weekend and with COVID-19 figures declining, Banker said she expects travel to pick up despite high fuel costs.
Located near the interstate, the Shell gas station at Cornellier typically gets a lot of business and tourism traffic.
Indianapolis area resident John Grimston, who was traveling through the area for work, said he’s noticed prices had gone up.
“There’s not much you can do about it,” Grimston said. “Groceries and gas are all more expensive. I think the Russia-Ukraine situation complicates things. It might effect people in Europe more so than us, but the global economy is all intertwined. I don’t know what can be done about it in the short-term, but in the long term it would be transitioning away from fossil fuels.”
Some residents who responded to a Beloit Daily News question on social media regarding rising prices blamed the administration of President Joe Biden for not doing enough to fight inflation.
“The inflation of the past year has affected everyone,” said Kay Pierson Nightingale. “All avoidable. Shameful. The blame goes directly to this administration. Change my mind.”
Area resident Riley Stensland said he drives from Rockford to Beloit to get gas.
“That impacts my time but saves me $10 to $15 per fill,” Stensland said in part. “Also a handful of my regular groceries are up 50%. Gas up around $1.50 a gallon and groceries (are) outrageous.”
The increasing prices has some residents worried there’s no end in sight.
“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Beloit resident Rich Najdowski. “I hope I am wrong.”