So where are gasoline prices heading this year? The year 2013 started just like it did in 2012—gas prices were at a national average of $3.30 per gallon, setting a record high for the start of the year. But that doesn’t mean that this year will unfold like last year, in which we experienced two price spikes: refinery fires in California and the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
The reality is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict energy prices or what will affect them. There are simply too many variables that could affect supply and demand alone, whether acts of God or acts of terror.
But there also is some predictability in the marketplace. For one, the market reacts to external pressures in a predictable manner. Because the foundation of the market remains relatively unchanged year-to-year, how the market behaves in times of disruption does not vary greatly from event to event.
Second, past experiences in market cycles tend to repeat themselves. We can look at market conditions and consumer sentiments as we begin the annual spring transition to summer-blend fuel. Over the past decade, we have extensively tracked historical models to examine the factors that can lead to price swings. This year, NACS has once again surveyed consumers for its Consumer Fuels Report to gain insights into how they shop for fuels and how gas prices affect their purchasing behavior at the pump and overall.
Because convenience stores sell 80% of the fuel purchased in the country, the 2013 NACS Retail Fuels Report includes a complete analysis of the fuels market.
Results of the new consumer survey about gas prices, including details about how consumers shop for fuel, and what drives these decisions. One finding: 88% of consumers said that the price at the pump has an impact in how they feel about the economy.
A look back at how Hurricane Sandy disrupted the energy markets and what might help mitigate the effect at the pump for future disasters.
A new backgrounder on how 9/10th-cent pricing became the standard at the gas pump.
A detailed look at the history of fueling, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first drive-in gas station, which opened in Pittsburgh in December 1913. It is a fascinating look back at history, and it’s also fun. For instance, read how a sweeping new initiative forced gas-station owner “Colonel” Harland Sanders to find a different—and more lucrative—line of work.
The first week of February traditionally marks the beginning of the spring transition to summer-blend fuels for the petroleum industry. And on Saturday, February 2, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, supposedly foretelling an early spring. We’ll see whether Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction holds true or has a bearing on the petroleum markets, which is like the movie Groundhog Day: it experiences similar conditions over and over, except on an annual, rather than daily, basis. An early spring could decrease heating oil demand and mitigate the challenges associated with the seasonal transition to summer-blend fuel.
NACS publishes this annual Retail Fuels Report on February 2 every year (or the following Monday, if February 2 falls on a weekend). More elements will be added throughout the year, so be sure to check back for updates. The report is online at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices. Contact Jeff Lenard with questions at email@example.com or call (703) 518-4272. (Jeff Lenard, NACS: www.nacsonline.com)