In gas, the price is not always right

Not like the gas price wars of 50 years ago but savings can be found by looking.
Not like the gas price wars of 50 years ago but savings can be found by looking.

 

As a Floyd Countian I try, whenever possible, to buy local. In these days of fluctuating gas prices, however, that is not easy.

Gas prices for regular are often competitive in and around Floyd but regular is where the competition seems to stop.

My motorcycles require premium gas.  So does Amy’s Mini Cooper S.  I pulled in to the Exxon station in Floyd Sunday afternoon with thoughts of topping off the tank of my Harley Switchback.  I had filled the tank on Saturday during afternoon rides and paid $1.96 for premium at a BP Station in Roanoke County.

While regular at the Exxon was priced at $1.79.9, a price one sees a lot nowadays in the area, premium was $2.44.9, a whopping 65 cents a gallon increase for premium.  I tried two other stations locally  and found pretty much the same difference.

My gas tank was only about half empty and I was planning to ride more, so I  hit the road and found premium at $1.97.7 a gallon at an Exxon station in adjacent Montgomery County.  For 3.6 gallons to fill my bike’s gas tank I saved $2.27.  If we have been filling the rank of Amy’s Mini, the savings would have been about $11.  The price for regular gas at the station was $1.77.9 for regular gas — two cents a gallon cheaper for regular and 51 cents cheaper for premium.

I’ve asked gas distributors why gas prices vary so much in a same area.  A lot of factors, I was told. Kroger prices its gas in volume and includes a variable on competition in an area.  The Kroger station in Redford, for example, faces competition from a Hess station just across the street and a Sheetz just up the road.  Also, the number gallons pumped of a particular grade is also taken into consideration.

On Sunday, the Kroger station offered premium for $197.7 a gallon with the store discount and their regular was $1.68,9 for regular, again with the three-cent discount.

Others say market volume is a factor as is the price charged for the latest delivery of the gas.  Many smaller stations get regular gas deliveries frequently but the tank with premium may still have gas that was delivered when the price was higher.

I wonder how much premium gas is pumped in and around Floyd where vintage muscle cars and a good collection of motorcycles that need premium gas can be found.

Our Jeeps use regular gas and a price like $1.79.9 a gallon is acceptable when stations in nearby areas are offering prices of $1.74,9 — a five cent difference, but 50 cents a gallon difference on premium?

To compare, I stopped at other major chain stations in Christiansburg, Redford, Hillsville and other location this weekend to check their prices.  Stations priced regular at $1.74.9 to $179.9 a gallon, but their prices on premium ranged from $1.77.9 to $2.35.9.

Mid-range gas, I also found, fluctuated as much as 20 cents a gallon at stations that offered the same $1.79.9 a gallon for regular.

Chains offer less of a gas reduction on premium than on regular but still offer the gas for less than in Floyd.  The Shell station in Riner offered premium for $2.29.9 a gallon this weekend —  15 cents less than the Exxon in Floyd yet both offer regular gas for $179.9.

Gas station roulette?  Perhaps, but one gas station operator Saturday called it “supply and demand.”  That seems more appropriate.

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