BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The rising cost of gas is now impacting how people spend their money.

Mike Schuh reports merchants are feeling the pinch.

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When prices get this high, people with cars are making choices about spending.

In Canton, the effect of the oil companies with their hands out for more has been noticed by one store owner.

“People will come in and buy a gift for somebody, but they won’t necessarily buy that pair of earrings for themselves,” said Stephanie Fleishman, 2910 On The Square owner.

Her gift store has been open for 12 years. They’re really nice gifts, sure. But what’s in there isn’t a necessity like gas and food.

“People are coming in, but now they’re bringing in coupons from our newsletter because people are trying to save because everything is going up and up and up,” Fleishman said.

While these prices seem higher than ever, they’re not yet at the record.

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“Unfortunately, we’re dangerously close to the all time high of $4.05, which happened in summer of 2008,” said Ragina Averella, AAA- Mid-Atlantic.

At Shlomo Benamor’s women’s store at the Reisterstown Road Plaza, his customers tell him gas comes first.

“But for most of my customers, gas prices have an effect because they have less money to spend on extra to make themselves feel better,” Benamor said. “That’s the bottom line.”

But he too is buying less inventory and looking for deals, as prices are now more important than ever.

“I’m becoming like my customers,” Benamor said. “I have to become a good shopper, too, buy very carefully. I have to buy reasonable.”

Consider that at a time when everything else is going up, he’s lowering prices to attract what money his customers have left.

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The average price per gallon in Maryland is now at $3.98 per gallon.