Higher number of travelers doesn’t add up to higher gas pricesIf you found jammed roads on your way to your Thanksgiving feast this year, it’s no wonder.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
If you found jammed roads on your way to your Thanksgiving feast this year, it’s no wonder.
AAA estimated that there would be 4 percent more people traveling this Thanksgiving weekend — between Wednesday and Sunday — than in past years. And, the grand majority — as much as 90 percent — of those travelers would be going by automobile.
More travelers might mean more traffic jams.
“Historically, (business) does pick up somewhat,” said Mike Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Oil in Red Wing.
But, more travelers don’t mean higher gas prices.
As of Friday afternoon, regular unleaded gas at Wilson’s Marathon Station was selling at $3.14 a gallon. That’s two cents cheaper than it was on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s the time of year when customarily we see gas prices go towards their lowest levels,” said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for the national gas price-tracking website GasBuddy.com.
Wilson said he generally prices his gas a few cents cheaper than his competition in Red Wing.
“We’re historically lower than anyone else in town,” Wilson said.
On Friday, Kwik Trip on Main Street tied Wilson for the lowest Red Wing price, GasBuddy.com showed.
A month ago, gas in the upper Midwest was selling for as much as 30 cents a gallon more, Laskoski said.
The recent drop, Laskoski said, is partly caused by the refineries being able to produce winter blend gasoline, which doesn’t have the additives that federal laws make mandatory for gas produced between April and October.
“It lowers the price because it’s actually a cheaper gas being produced,” Laskoski said.
Interestingly, last week, the price of crude oil topped $100 per barrel — the first time that’s ever happened in November. So why are prices still falling at the pump?
“The answer, we believe, lies in the current disconnect between crude and pump prices,” Laskoski said in a statement. “The two usually move in tandem, but this is one of those instances where the exception to the rule occurs.”
In addition, gasoline futures are currently at their lowest levels since February 2011, which leads to wholesale and retail price declines, Laskoski said.
Still, some drivers might notice that gas prices in Hastings, just 20 miles up Highway 61, have been as much as 10 cents cheaper than gas in Red Wing in the past few weeks.
On Friday, GasBuddy.com showed the Shell Station in Hastings selling regular unleaded gas at $3.10 a gallon.
Laskoski said it’s common for gas prices to vary between cities — even those just a few miles away. Different state gas taxes could be the cause.
For example, Minnesota has a 45.6 cent per gallon tax while Iowa’s is only 40.4 cents.
“It might make sense to drive across the state line,” Laskoski said. Varying city and county taxes could play the same role, he added.
Gas station location could be another factor, Laskoski said; stations located near major highways and in metro areas, where there is more traffic, might be able to sell gas for cheaper prices than stations in more rural areas.
Still, while drivers might be able to fill up for a few cents less in Hastings, compared to that $3.44 from just a month ago, Red Wing’s current $3.14 doesn’t sound too bad.