ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A new "study" examining high gas prices issued by the Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC), a group representing Visa, MasterCard and their member banks, demonstrates "an immense ignorance of the fuels markets," according to NACS Vice President of Industry Advocacy Jeff Lenard.
EPC issued a press release on Monday claiming that gas retailers are saving $1 billion a year at the expense of consumers, thanks to the Durbin Amendment. The group made this claim largely because it believes that "consumer preference for debit cards has increased substantially over the past several years €" at the expense of cash, checks, and credit cards."
"Whenever Congress meddles in an industry debate over who pays what, consumers never win," said EPC spokesperson Trish Wexler. "No one is surprised to see that gas retailers are keeping billions of dollars for themselves, while their customers continue to be punished at the pump. Americans should go to their gas stations and demand what€™s theirs €" a discount for debit."
NACS countered that the EPC is demonstrating a complete distortion of the fuels marketplace.
"When prices rise, retailers usually cut margins because they want to remain price competitive even if their wholesale costs increased," said Lenard. "Data from OPIS shows that the average national markup (gross margin) for gas was 13.0 cents per gallon over the first quarter of the year. We estimate that expenses to sell gas are around 15 cents per gallon, so average retailers experienced an entire quarter where they lost money selling gas."
Moreover, NACS has years of consumer data showing consumer price sensitivity with gas purchases. "Consumers are aware of discounts €" and have used them. That came through loud and clear from our 2012 NACS Consumers Fuels Report," said Lenard.