Local businesses hit by high fuel costs need community support
By Vivian Collings
It’s no secret that there has been a sharp increase in gasoline prices in Ontario over the past few months with an average price of 210.6 cents per liter for regular unleaded gasoline as of today. of June 13.
This increase has undeniably affected businesses in Haliburton County in a variety of ways, from concerns about declining visitor numbers in the highlands to the rising cost of goods.
“The only positive thing we can take from this situation is that most companies are in the same boat. Rising gas prices and therefore the cost of goods affect everyone,” said Clay Glecoff, manager and co-owner (with his wife, Amy) of Glecoff’s Family Store in Haliburton.
The Canadian Fuels Association has described four factors that contribute to gasoline prices. The first is the price of crude oil, which fluctuates with supply and demand, and world events can affect the price. The second relates to wholesale prices for refined gasoline, which can also fluctuate depending on world events such as incidents at refineries, extreme weather conditions and the war in Ukraine. Third, gasoline retailers are independent businesses that can set their own markups on fuel costs. Finally, taxes represent an average of 47 cents per liter of gasoline in Canada.
Ashley McAllister, director of operations and strategic initiatives at Abbey Gardens in the Algonquin Highlands, said: “For us the biggest concern is whether petrol prices will impact how often owners of cottagers decide to come to the county this summer. The increase means that many people will avoid additional trips, and we don’t know if this will also be reflected in seasonal weekend traffic.
Haliburton County also lacks housing and rental options for seasonal and long-term residents, and rising gas prices have exacerbated the situation by making travel more expensive for employees.
McAllister said: “We are also having difficulties with the staff. Without adequate housing solutions in the area, especially for students, we have struggled to find summer students able to find accommodation in the county, and commuting is not as feasible with current prices for gasoline.
She said Abbey Gardens would typically have their summer staff finalized by the end of May, but this year 30 per cent of their roles still need to be filled.
“We are also seeing the impact on the cost of goods in store as delivery costs have increased. As a charity, even a small increase can be very detrimental, but the staggering increase means we are notified of shipping increases almost weekly, so we have to constantly adjust,” McAllister said.
Glecoff said high gas prices have had a lot of impact on their store. This drove up the already expensive pandemic commodity prices even further.
“The cost of goods from our suppliers has increased by 10% or more. A shipping container that used to cost manufacturers $5,000 from China now costs over $20,000, and that happened before gas prices started to skyrocket.
He also said shipping prices have increased with the price of goods.
“Some suppliers have added fuel charges to their invoices and some shipping lines have done the same,” he said.
Glecoff said the price of their goods unfortunately increases daily as a direct result of increased shipping rates.
Kim Emmerson, owner of Emmerson Lumber Limited in Haliburton, said their employees are also feeling the effects of high gas prices in their personal lives.
He said inventory costs as well as delivery to their customers are more expensive.
“In the long run, customers will end up paying more for their consumer goods. Our suppliers now charge a gas supplement. In the long term, if these higher gas prices continue, businesses and customers will end up paying the price,” Emmerson said.
Susan Andresen, owner of Pet Tyme Animal Krackers in Minden, said the biggest impact of high gas prices for their store is a surcharge on rates for shipping goods to the “North”.
“Sometimes companies don’t ship at the usual interval/schedule in order to save costs, which affects our inventory quantities,” she said.
Some businesses with a smaller amount of stock aren’t as badly affected.
Brian Wheeler, manager at Russell Red Records in Haliburton, said most of their shipments are delivered by the same delivery truck as other businesses in downtown Haliburton, so shipping costs for them are n have increased only slightly so far.
As the price of fuel is not expected to drop any time soon, customers can take action to help local businesses that are negatively impacted by huge fuel and shipping costs.
McAllister said: “The best advice for visitors to Abbey Gardens would be to take advantage of all the different amenities we have here and make a day out of it. The more activities you can combine in one place, the better, especially with gas prices like this.
Andresen agreed that planning a trip to complete multiple errands on the same day can help customers cut down on much-needed fuel expenses.
She said that instead of ordering online from large retailers, customers can “call local businesses ahead if you know you’ll need a certain product, and most can order it for you and prepare it for your next trip to town”.
Glecoff said that despite difficult times over the past two years, the community has come together to support local businesses, and he is confident that support will continue.
“Over the past two years, our community has supported Haliburton Village beyond our expectations, and I suspect they will continue to do so now. Amy and I have been extremely fortunate to have remained open during these difficult times and are blessed to have the support of our community,” Glecoff said.
The average price of gasoline in Ontario fell from 210.6 cents per liter last week to 201.2 cents per liter on Monday June 20th.