Gas price disparities causing alarm

6:36 PM, Feb 28, 2013   |    comments
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By Tracy Clemons

FENTON, Mo. (KSDK) - The painful price to fill up seems like it keeps getting worse. The average price of regular gas has jumped $0.42 in the last month.

"If there is trouble in the Middle East, and there's a lot of it, will tend to force national oil prices and international oil prices up. Once the oil is up, gasoline will follow it," said Lewis Bettman, Raymond James Financial Services.

The most common price for a gallon of regular we found Thursday was $3.53. But we found some in the $3.30s. Bettman said some stations use lower prices to lure customers in.

"For example, if you see a gas station that has a great deal of food, if they sell cigarettes, if they have a license to sell beer, they prefer to make their profits on food and the beer as opposed to the gasoline," Bettman said. "So the gasoline is used as a loss leader. They don't have to make their money there."

You can also take advantage of price wars like the one going on between the Shell and Mobil stations at the corner of Bowles and Smizer Mill in Fenton. When we first pulled up to shoot our story, a gallon of regular at both stations was $3.35. Within a few minutes, Shell dropped to $3.34, and a few minutes later, Mobil did the same.

"I saw cheaper prices on my way out of the neighborhood and just came back to fill up," said Tom Paley.

Paley doesn't ride around looking for the best deal, but said he keeps his eyes open.

"I don't shop around. I wouldn't go shop all these stations that are around here," he said. "But I sort of do. I keep an eye out on prices."

NewsChannel 5 asked Paley if shopping around could be a waste of money.

"It could if you go across town, the price per gallon you're spending a dollar just to save two dollars," he said.

Meanwhile, Bettman predicts a substantial drop in the price of oil over the next two years. He said it will make its way to the pumps and drivers could see some significant relief. But as always, that could change based on what happens in the Middle East.

KSDK

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