Fuel costs mean higher prices in stores

  • Aug. 26, 2005 6:00 a.m.

Are you suffering from ‘sticker-shock’ with every trip to the store? With the price of fuel climbing to unexplored heights, islanders are forking over more for groceries and supplies of all kinds than ever before. The cost of everything is tied into the cost of oil, because at some point it has to be transported here, via truck, ferry, or plane. Oil prices hit an all-time high of US$67.95/barrel this week, and there’s no relief in sight, Mariah McCooey writes.
At Delmas Co-Op in Masset, manager Richard Clarmont says the cost of getting trailers to the islands from Edmonton has gone up three percent – in the last week alone. Since last October, the price per trailer has gone up a total of $1000 per month. Multiply by two trailers a week, and an additional one for ‘sale’ days, to make a grand total increase of about $9,000 a month. This is for both the stores, but still, that is several dollars per person on the islands, per month.
“We try to absorb some of the cost,” said Mr. Clarmont, “but the majority of it has to be passed on to the customers.”
To try and minimize costs, he said, they are making sure every trailer is “maxed right out, with every pound we can.” But even then, businesses are being hit by the new ferries fuel surcharge of 60 cents per foot. That’s about $32 for a regular sized trailer, in each direction, on top of the usual fare.
Joanne Ames at Clearbrook Trucking says the price of diesel fuel has gone up to $1.007 from 84.8 cents per litre at this time last year, nearly 16 percent. Clearbrook Trucking is an agent for Canadian Freightways, she said, and they set all the rates. Just last week, she said, their fuel surcharge went up nearly four percent. “It has a huge impact on the industry,” she said, “especially all the small operators. Everyone has to figure out how to deal with paying 16 cents a litre more than last year.” These costs have to trickle down at some point, she said, and eventually the cost burden ends up being paid by consumers and employees who may lose their jobs because of rising costs. “It’s all a domino effect,” she said.
The rising cost of shipping is also affecting businesses here that ship products off the islands. Brian Bussiere of Graham Island Forest Products in Masset regularly sends a trailer full of cedar shingles to Vancouver. He says his shipping cost has gone up 25-percent in the past 18 months.
CB Island Fisheries, also in Masset is paying about ten percent more this season, said manager Dave Hounsell. “It’s gone up quite a bit,” he said, although once it’s averaged out over a full trailer, the additional cost per pound is not very much. But it adds up, throughout the season.
Mr. Hounsell said that it’s the fishermen that he really feels for. “They’re noticing it more than us,” he said, “they’re the ones suffering the most in all of this.” The crew is eating the cost of the fuel.