For online and catalog retailers like Amazon, Overstock.com and LL Bean that often entice customers with flat-rate and free shipping, higher freight costs could also pose a threat to margins, says James Matthews, a business parcel shipment consultant with Source Consulting.
"The trickle down can be considerable," Matthews says. "A lot more people are buying online. Companies can only absorb that charge for so long without having to increase the prices somewhere."
Yet, as oil futures have climbed back above $100 a barrel, this time around shipping fuel surcharges at FedEx and UPS are not as steep as they were when oil prices were at the same level in 2008.
In April three years ago air freight surcharges were close to 20 percent ,according to Source Consulting Research. This month, the air surcharge is hovering at around 11 percent.
"In recent years, when FedEx increased shipping rates, it also partially offset the increase by adjusting the threshold at which the fuel surcharge begins," says Jess Bunn of FedEx investor relations.
This time around, already accustomed to paying higher prices, customers may be feeling a little less sticker shock and be better prepared to make alternatives.
That expectation prices will rise is what really worries economists such as Nicolas Colas of ConvergEx.
While the Fed has said it believes the inflationary impact of the energy price is transitory, Colas says they have to be concerned that inflation psychology may become more fixed.
"The Fed knows they have to worry about inflationary expectations," Colas says. "Once you lose control of that psychology as a central bank you're in a tough spot." Colas thinks people are close to that point.
Consultant Kelsea Hanrahan certainly is. She's bracing for gas to top $4 a gallon this summer.
"I'm expecting it," she says. "That's where it seems to be heading."