LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Around the country, gas prices continue to rise, and people who rely on vehicles are paying more each time they fill up. Businesses that deliver products face tough decisions, and they hope the fuel prices level off.

Frances Flower Shop in Little Rock has been in business since the 1950s. Betty Anderson took over the business from her family, and she now owns it. The flower shop delivers on about 80% of its sales, Anderson said.

“You want to be an affordable service, but you also have to pay your drivers,” Anderson said. “You have to make a profit.”

With gas prices continuing to rise, Anderson said she is trying to be positive.

“I’m not in panic mode,” Anderson said. “Even though people are talking five, six, seven dollars, we’re not there.”

Anderson said florists are discussing ways to approach their business if prices continue to rise. Because of supply chain problems, Anderson had to raise costs earlier in the pandemic. She wants to avoid another increase if she can. A typical day filled with deliveries may be shifted into converged deliveries.

“If it’s a matter of putting gas in your car to get to work or buying flowers, guess what?” Anderson said. “You’re not going to buy flowers.”

Zac Deem owns Hungry Howie’s, a pizza restaurant in Little Rock. He said the company is already experiencing an impact from raised gas prices.

“We’re paying more to drive,” Deem said. “For me as a business owner, I compensate my drivers for the use of their vehicles.”

The food sector is experiencing one of the worst examples of the “Great Resignation,” as people flock to higher-paying, sometimes-remote jobs. The fuel costs are making it even harder to hire workers, Deem said.

“It’s kind of a challenging time, I would say, for recruitment,” Deem said. “[It’s hard] to get someone to sign up for a career to use their vehicle.”

Deem said in a typical time, he pays workers around 20 cents per mile they drive. Now, he estimates that could be as high as 40 cents and even reach 50.

“We’re always going to try to make it work for our customers,” Deem said. “I would just say keep trying to support your local businesses.”

Jeff Cooperstein, a University of Arkansas economist, said much of the oil in circulation was purchased long before additional factors drove up costs. He attributed this to oil companies finding a way to drive up profits amid widespread understanding prices would increase.

Companies that rely on deliveries will hurt more than others, Cooperstein said, and he encouraged them to find ways to stay to a strict budget.

“They have apps where you can find the lowest possible gas prices,” Cooperstein said. “They have apps where you can find the most efficient routes.”

Cooperstein said lowering the demand for gas, while difficult, will be one of the only ways prices can decrease relatively quickly.

“It’ll be hard because of how much the country relies on gasoline,” Cooperstein said. “If possible, people can come together and shift the demand curve.”