The price of gas at a station on Missouri and Georgia Avenues in northwest D.C. is above the average rate per gallon in the city. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
The price of gas at a station on Missouri and Georgia Avenues in northwest D.C. is above the average rate per gallon in the city. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Rising prices in gasoline, goods and services in the District, reflecting a national trend, has residents changing their routines and shopping habits in order to make ends meet.

Economists say world events such as the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine have become the cause for the ascent in the price of gasoline, which influences the costs of other goods and services.

According to the AAA Gas Prices website, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the District as of March 26 hovers around $4.42, up from $3.77 a month ago. In comparison, in Maryland, the average cost of a gallon of gas comes out to $3.81, the website reported, as opposed to $3.59 four weeks ago. Virginia has $4.13 for a gallon of gas during the same time period while a month prior, it stood at $3.43.

Increasing gas prices have forced Roger Sherman, the owner and founder of The District Pit, a barbecue-based catering business in Southeast, to charge his customers more for his food and services.

“When the price of gas goes up from $2.50 to $4, I pass it on to my customers,” Sherman said. “There is also the increase in the price of beef at a dollar, too. I have to pass on these costs because I want to remain competitive. I am in competition with bigger restaurants who offer basically the same services I do.”

Sherman said he sometimes gets his gas in District Heights, Md., due to lower prices as compared to those in the city and the pause on the state’s gas tax.

Joe Houston, an actor in the District, said the escalation in gas prices has caused him to change his routine, too.

“I try to find stations that have cheaper gas,” Houston said. “I also try to minimize driving.”

Cinque Culver, who co-manages a family with seven children in Ward 7, said the rising price of gas hasn’t hurt his family as much as it has others.

“We are saving and investing a little less but if the gas prices keep going up, it will have an impact,” Culver said. “I have two daughters who are driving and a son who will go off to college in the fall and if the price of gas is still high, that will be a hit on my pocketbook.”

Residents Seek Ways to Handle Rising Food Prices 

The Dollar Tree discount store at the Hechinger Mall in Northeast has a steady stream of customers on March 26. For many years, Dollar Tree billed itself as the store where almost all of its products cost a dollar.

However, throughout the store, most items have recently increased to $1.25. Those items include: holiday decorations and products, juices, kitchen cleaners, cleaning fluids, air and fabric softeners, toilet paper, paper towels, soft drinks, frozen foods and pastries. An employee of the Dollar Tree told the Informer price increase went into effect on Jan. 10.

Shayla Brown, who lives in Ward 5, said price increases at the Dollar Tree don’t surprise her.

“I noticed a lot of items in the store are now $1.25 instead of a dollar,” Brown said. “Those items are supposed to be a dollar. Nevertheless, I will continue to shop here because everything is cheap. If I had to go to Safeway for cleaning supplies, it would cost me about $50.”

Alexis Mason, who came from east of the Anacostia River to shop at the Dollar Tree, said she doesn’t like the accelerating prices but understands the rationale behind the increases.

“These stores have got to make their money in order to stay open,” said Mason, who lives in Ward 8. “I come to this store because the cleaning supplies here are reasonably priced.”

Mason said some of the products in bottles and containers aren’t filled to the top but said that doesn’t bother her.

“I think I am getting the value for my money,” she said.

Like Mason, Ward 5 resident Zachariah Jackson accepts the rising prices.

“Everything has gone up,” Jackson said. “That is just how it is. I will say in many cases, wages have gone up too. I guess if wages go up, so do prices.”

A Safeway operates north of the Dollar Tree in an elevated section of the mall. Lawrence Lockhart, a Ward 5 resident who bikes to the Safeway, said food has long been expensive but he has noticed the bump in prices in recent weeks.

“I regularly buy a gallon of Deer Park water,” he said. “I noticed it increased sixty cents since the last time I was here.”

Lockhart said fruits and vegetables have remained at the same price at Safeway. He said he shops at Target to get better bargains and avoids Whole Foods stores.

“Whole Foods is a little too expensive for me,” he said.

Ward 5 resident Uranus Anderson said the soaring prices at Safeway have forced her to change shopping habits.

“I wait for things to go on sale,” Anderson said. “I look for markdowns on items and special discounts.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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