Gas stations love low prices

(AP) – A data analysis about U.S. gas prices and some of the market forces that drive them:

 

NEW YORK (AP) — You know who else loves the falling price of gasoline? The gas station owners.

That’s because when the wholesale price of gasoline falls quickly, the difference between that price and the price at the pump gets wider, boosting profits for stations. The steeper the drop, the better. And with motorists paying well under $3 a gallon for the first time in four years, profits at the filling stations are rising.

Over the past five years, gas stations have charged an average of 17.1 cents a gallon over the price they pay at the wholesale level. According to the Oil Price Information Service, that difference has stretched this year to 21.7 cents a gallon, the highest ever.

But that’s certainly not all profit. The National Association of Convenience Stores says when you factor in credit card fees and other operation costs, net profit for gasoline sales averages three cents a gallon.

The owner of a station on New York’s Long Island says when prices fall, people don’t do as much shopping around for the cheapest price as they do when prices are rising. Kevin Beyer says they’re feeling “a relief at the pump” — and that as a result, “people are more friendly.”

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