The following charts are from This Week in Petroleum.
Note the price difference between last year's and this year's prices.
Gas: 78.7 cents
Diesel: 84.5 cents
Heating Oil: 89.3 cents
Propane: 55.8 cents.
These aren't small increases. Not only are there strong fundamental reasons for the weak retail sales figures from the holidays there are also strong headwinds against the consumer going forward.
Yesterday, I looked at oil's charts. Right now, it's consolidating between roughly $88 and $100/bbl. While the long term chart shows a possible double top formation, oil hasn't dropped below key support levels despite increasing evidence of a US slowdown. These prices could be key to the speed with which the economy recovers.