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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Despite data showing that inflation is dropping, more than half of North Carolina residents say rising prices are worse than they expected them to be this month.

Post-pandemic inflation through December was 6.5%, which is about a half-percentage-point lower than it was in December 2022, but 53% of respondents to a High Point University Poll said that inflation was worse than they expected.

Chief culprits in those higher prices? The residents polled by HPU said they were paying much more for eggs (74%), meat (63%) and gasoline (59%). Other food items and natural gas all were 39% or higher.

And it’s true that gasoline prices in the Piedmont Triad continue to tick up. Reports Monday by GasBuddy found the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Greensboro market rose by another 3.3 cents this past week (to $3.38), and AAA reported that figure to be $3.387, up 4.9 cents from last week.

Overall, prices have risen by more than 40 cents per gallon in the past month and more than a quarter a gallon since last January, both tracking groups found. Those sub-$3-per-gallon prices that dominated pre-Christmas are gone with your packed-and-stowed decorations.

The cheapest fuel

None of the 10 cheapest outlets in North Carolina are in the Piedmont Triad, based on GasBuddy’s tracking. A Citgo in Jacksonville reported $2.84 per gallon, and a BP on Old Statesville Road in Huntersville was at $2.89. There were three scattered outlets at $2.99. Everything else was $3 and higher.

Still, there are decent values out there, based on state and national averages, and we put together a list based on GasBuddy’s tracking of the cheapest places to buy gasoline in the Piedmont Triad:

  • The cheapest is in Lexington, where the Quality Plus on Old U.S. 52 posted $3.13 per gallon. That was followed by the Pantry Shop on National Highway in Thomasville ($3.16). There were at least eight more outlets in Davidson and Forsyth counties that posted lower than $3.20 per gallon.
  • Likewise in the Wilkesboro area, 10 outlets reported no higher than $3.19 a gallon, led by the Murphy Express on U.S. 421 in Wilkesboro ($3.15). The OM Express on Elkin Highway was only a penny higher.
  • A Pantry Shop on West English Road in High Point posted $3.19, the best in Greater Greensboro. But Amoco on South Elm-Eugene and Citgo on Randleman Road in Greensboro were at $3.23.
  • In the Burlington area, which tends to price a little higher because of proximity to Durham-Chapel Hill-Raleigh, a Citgo on East Main Street in Swepsonville reported $3.22 per gallon.
  • In Randolph County, a Dollar General on Swannanoa Avenue in Liberty is at $3.22 as well.
  • Speedway on Camp Road in Surry County is at $3.28, and a Shell in Elkin is at $3.29 to highlight the region around Mount Airy.

A sampling of AAA found the cheapest averages to be in Stokes County ($3.342), followed by Randolph ($3.355) and Yadkin $3.356).

More about fuel prices

Across North Carolina, GasBuddy reports that the average price is slightly lower than most Triad counties: $3.35 per gallon, or about 5.2 cents higher than a week ago. Durham checked in at $3.41 (up 5.1 cents) and Winston-Salem at $3.37 (up 1 cent).

AAA’s prices track slightly higher: $3.359, up by 4.8 cents last week, 36.9 cents from last month and 40.7 cents from last year.

GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan.

GasBuddy reported the national average at $3.49, and AAA checked in at $3.508. Both are up nearly 10 cents in a week, 33.3 cents in a month and 14.1 cents from last year.

Oh, and diesel, critical to the cost of transporting goods, rose again, too, up 5.4 cents from last week to $4.65, GasBuddy reports. AAA has that average at $4.513, up by .004 cents from last week.

Those prices aren’t likely to improve anytime soon. Here’s what Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s national expert, had to say:

“The national average price of gasoline has risen for the fifth straight week as retailers pass along the rise in wholesale gasoline prices due to continued challenges: refinery utilization that still hasn’t fully recovered from December’s cold weather, and refinery maintenance season that’s just around the corner.

“There appears to be little good news on the gas price front, with prices unlikely to turn around any time soon. Because of the surge in prices last spring, many refineries that had planned maintenance deferred maintenance until 2023. With the can kicked to this year, we may have similar challenges producing enough refined products to meet demand, especially with the European Union cutting off refined products from Russia starting February 5.”

More on the HPU poll

About that same half of residents who say they saw prices as much higher said those prices were affecting their spending decisions (52%), HPU found. And if you add in those who said it “somewhat affected them” (35%), then that impact was about 9 in 10 residents.

HPU’s recent survey of NC adults. (HPU POLL)

“Since June 2022, inflation has been falling,” Brandon Dragone, a visiting instructor of economics at HPU, said in the release about the poll. “However, inflation is still higher than a year ago and certainly higher than recent memory. So, even though inflation is trending down, it may still be some time before prices become what we are accustomed to being stable.”

HPU’s poll was a sampling of 1,006 adult residents of North Carolina recruited for an online panel during the week of Jan. 17-21. Its credibility interval (like a margin of error) is at 3.3 percentage points.

Said Brian McDonald, associate director of the poll: “Despite feeling like they are paying more for foods and other services, a majority of poll respondents are not canceling or delaying their health care.”

Historical trends

GasBuddy’s historical average gasoline prices for Jan. 30 in Greensboro and the national average going back a decade:

                    GSO           U.S.

2023          $3.35        $3.49

2022          $3.12        $3.34

2021:        $2.31        $2.43

2020:        $2.26        $2.49

2019:        $2.15        $2.27

2018:        $2.51        $2.59

2017:        $2.19        $2.27

2016:        $1.77        $1.80

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2015:        $2.01        $2.04

2014:        $3.28        $3.27

2013:        $3.38        $3.40