Suncoast gas prices are on the rise

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SARASOTA - Gas prices are on the rise again tonight, much earlier in the year than normally expected.

Some experts say the spike is due to high demand, yet others say they have no idea what's causing the rise in prices that's been seen over the past week.

At the Tamiami Sunoco, was the cheapest we found all day at $3.73. That's good news for motorists, yet for the owners here this is what they paid per gallon for the gas. They're not making any money at this price, and they're not the only ones this is happening to.

Obviously, the big question is, Why the spike? No one seems to know.

Months before gas prices normally spike for the summer, drivers are already feeling a pinch at the pump. "I think it’s absolutely awful and I think it’s going to shut our economy down if we keep doing it," says Adrienne Wear.

Gas stations we spoke with say the trend started a few weeks ago. Some say it’s because more people, just need more gas. "Demand is up, demand not just in the United States, but in big countries like China and India," says Russell Spring of Tamiami Sunoco.

That increase in demand is certainly being felt here on the Suncoast. "A week or so ago we ran out of gas, actually because they were having a hard time finding it because of pricing,” says Angel Mileur of Dodge's Gas Station.

Believe it or not, some gas stations say in order to keep customers coming in they're selling the gas at the price they paid for it. "We're breaking flat even on it. We're not making anything on the gas."

Prices seemed to be hovering in the upper $3.70’s throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties today. The most expensive we found was $3.99 at several spots, including a Mobile station near Lakewood Ranch.

We asked why theirs was a higher price than most others and were given a number to call the owner. However, we were unable to reach the owner for comment.

Back on the street, drivers say they're getting worried. "I'm in the car business, and people are concerned."

While some expect prices to top off around $4 a gallon, there could be relief in sight, although not any time soon. "As demand decreases as the summer goes along, I think you'll start to see prices start to back off," says Spring.

Spring says he is selling his gas at cost as a favor to keep customers coming in. However, he admitted that he is not going to be able to keep doing it that way for much longer.

Now, as far as we can tell local taxes have not had any impact on the price. Manatee and Sarasota counties have the same fuel tax and it really seemed like all the prices were very similar regardless of which of those two counties you are in.