JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Those driving through Jonesboro can spot the different prices in regular unleaded fuel, sometimes only a block apart. People across the country are seeing the same sporadic pricing at their gas stations, as retail gas prices have reached their highest level ever for this time of year.
"Unfortunately, with my job, I have to work everywhere from Little Rock to Blytheville," Brittany Bennett of Jonesboro said. "I try to find gas at the cheapest place, but I don't drive around to find it because that takes more time and just as much money."
Bennett was on her way to fill up her tank Thursday afternoon when she stopped to discuss the recent price hike. She works as a sales representative and is on the road constantly.
"I don't understand why it could be $3.29 at one place and then $3.01 across the street, but I don't understand why they're up above $3 either. I just think it's ridiculous," Bennett said, adding: "When I was 16, they were under a dollar, and now it's over three. It's awful."
Drivers across the country are expressing the same frustration. Oil and gasoline prices remain high because of tension in the Persian Gulf and fears about Europe slipping into a recession. The unstable situation makes drivers like Debbie Crisp of Jonesboro feel pain at the pump.
"It's not easy, but I love my job. I'll put up with it," Crisp said about the unavoidable expense of gas.
Crisp works seven days a week as a home health care aide. She fills up her tank several times a week, and the bill has gotten larger recently.
"The gas prices are bad and so I pay about 30, 40 dollars when I go to the gas station," Crisp noted. "It hurts."
Crisp always looks for the cheapest gas prices, but she says it's aggravating when gas stations just blocks apart advertise different prices.
The Citgo station located at Highland and Stadium in Jonesboro sells regular unleaded gas for $3.29. Drivers, however, can simply drive down Stadium to the Kum & Go near Race Street to find gas at $3.01.
"Why drive all over town when you can go to one spot, fill up once a week and save money?" Melva Goad wondered aloud.
Paying more at the pump has changed Goad's habits recently. She uses her smartphone to find the cheapest gas, but also restricts her errand runs to one day a week to save money.
"Times are tough right now for everybody. The jobs are low, so it's just not right," Goad added. "I think they're kind of taking advantage of people."
Drivers can expect little reprieve despite experts predicting gasoline consumption has steadily fallen for the last few months. People will likely have to hold onto the habits they formed during the recession to continue pinching pennies.