Have you seen gas prices lately? I know you have.
Depending upon where you fuel up, a gallon of regular is costing you somewhere in the area of $2.60. (At least it was at press time.) So, you're probably asking the same question as everyone else -- are we looking at $3 a gallon again this summer? Or maybe higher?
The depressing answer? It doesn't look good.
You mostly hear consumers grousing about how much they have to pay to fill up their Escolade, but you and I know businesses also take a huge hit when fuel prices climb. I bet yours does.
Experts are warning us to brace for more rising gasoline costs, even before summer hits. Some Missouri pumps have seen jumps of more than 20 cents per gallon in recent weeks.
In early April, the average price of gas in Missouri was $2.48, which was up from $2.27 a month before that and up from $2.16 at this time last year.
Fuel experts like the Petroleum Marketers Association of America expects a roller coaster at the pumps this year, partly because of the unpredictable petroleum futures market.
"The petroleum futures market thrives on uncertainty, and there's so much uncertainty in the works," Daniel Gilligan, president of the Virginia-based organization, told the Associated Press.
Gilligan said consumers this year won't likely see the levels that followed the Gulf Coast hurricanes last fall, when the average national price soared above $3 per gallon. But he added that price volatility will precede any summertime price hikes that consumers have come to expect.
Gas prices in Missouri this time last year hovered around $2.15 per gallon.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration indicated recently that wholesale prices have gone up about 50 cents per gallon since the beginning of 2006 and are 37 cents higher than a year ago.
The good news is that Missouri appears to have the cheapest gas in the Midwest, according to Missourigasprices.com.
Jim Maurer, who is co-owner of Rhodes 101 Stops in Southeast Missouri, has been watching each night as his cost for fuel goes up. One day it's a nickel. Another it's 3 cents.
"I haven't seen it go down since March," Maurer said.
Maurer pointed out that crude oil prices are also high, $67 a barrel at press time.
"Oil prices like that are going to keep the price at the pump up there," he said.
But Maurer said the big X-factor is the storm season. That will make all the difference, he said.
I asked Maurer if gas prices will hit $3 a gallon this summer.
"This summer? That's a crystal ball question. That really is. It's so hard to forecast anything like that. I'd love to see prices get back down, but I don't think that's going to happen."
Scott Moyers is the editor of "Business Today."