The price of gas is falling, which is good news, but have you noticed that the price of gas varies wildly from one store to another, sometimes between stores on the same corner. 1200 WOAI news reports that has customers baffled and confused.
"I think there something funny going on," said one customer gassing up at a station on the city's far northwest side.
Gas buddy dot com says the 'gas gap' in San Antonio is more than sixty cents. In Dallas it is 80 cents and in Houston, more than $1.10 a gallon separates prices.
On one mile long stretch of Culebra road on the northwest side, station prices vary from $2.85 a gallon to $3.09.
It is a function of the way the gasoline market, and essentially the market for all commodities, work, according to Patrick DeHaan, a senior gas market analyst for Gas buddy.
"On the upside, stations don't have a choice how much to pass along the increases," he said. "They're forced to do it rapidly and to a very similar degree."
Last spring when prices were going up, the gap between prices in San Antonio was no more than a few cents. But when prices are falling, an economics concept known as 'sticky pricing' kicks in.
That's where outlets try to make up the money they lost when prices were rising by lowering prices more slowly. DeHaan says when prices are falling they have the leeway to do that.
"Some stations may pass along the savings in one swoop, they may pass along the savings at a different pace than other stations."
It is also a part of human nature that we get angry over a price of $3 a gallon when prices are going up, but $3 a gallon looks pretty good when prices are falling. That's something else that allows stations to lower prices more slowly when prices are falling, and recoup their losses from rising prices.
Gas stations also vary their pricing when overall prices are falling based on other factors, including whether they own or lease their land and building, and what their customer base is. Transients will pay more for gasoline than locals who buy at the same station every week and watch prices carefully. Gas prices are also determined by the competition in the particular area. New Braunfels frequently has the lowest gas prices in metro San Antonio, largely due to the presence of nearby Buc-ees, which generally has lower prices.
"Generally gasoline stations to make more margin on the way down," DeHaan said. "So stations have the luxury of making up for margins they lost earlier."