Nearly 40 million Americans fill up their gas tanks on a daily basis, oftentimes searching for a good price and convenient location. There is arguably no product that consumers think more about on a daily basis—yet at the same time is so misunderstood. As 2017 began, gas prices were higher than they had been in each of the previous years. At the same time, 2016 ended with new car sales reaching a new high and motor fuels demand continuing to grow. However, there are a number of dynamics that could shift supply and demand (and prices), whether world events or from the annual spring transition to summer-blend fuel.
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How the average American drives and uses fuel.
A snapshot look at the stores and infrastructures that provide fuels.
Nearly 40 million Americans fill up their vehicles every day. How they drive, consider gas prices and determine whether they go inside the store has a profound impact on convenience stores.
The price of gas affects how consumers think about broader economic issues, especially since gas process account for around 4% of consumer spending in any given year.
Gas is not just a commodity, it is also a leading indicator for how consumers feel about economic conditions.
Why were gas prices in California so much more than in South Carolina, or the national average? And why do they vary even within a market? It’s a combination of a few cost issues, plus business strategies.
No matter who owns the station, retail fuel prices are ultimately determined by crude oil, taxes, refining costs and distribution and marketing.
Summer-blend fuels, infrastructure maintenance and an increase in seasonal demand all create challenges that affect retail fuels prices.
There is some price asymmetry between price increases and decreases, but it’s a stretch to say that prices go up like a rocket but down like a feather.
Convenience stores sell 80% of the gasoline in the United States, and most are one-store businesses and less than 1% are owned by the major oil companies.
That branded station on the corner is almost certainly owned and operated by an independent.
How real is the threat of having your credit card cloned by a skimmer, and what are retailers doing to protect their customers?
While the pain of this transition to summer-blend fuel is felt throughout the country, there are significant environmental benefits. But there is one other lesser-known benefit for drivers in the summer: increased fuel efficiency.
Other Operations Affecting Fueling
Convenience stores do much more than sell daily essentials and an estimated 80% of the fuels purchased in the United States, they also play a critical role before and after a natural disaster like a hurricane strikes.
The United States has 141 refineries and more than 150,000 fueling stations. Pipelines provide that critical link between them.
The use of plastic at the pump is incredibly convenient. But that convenience comes at a cost.
Your car runs sluggish or even stops and starts in fits. Is the cause bad gas? Let’s look at the possibilities related to if your fuel may be causing these problems.
Changes in the marketplace have eroded premium gasoline’s sales, but premium still account for roughly 10% of all gasoline sales.
Statistics and Historical Context
Current information about motor fuels demand, supply, refining, distribution and retail operations.
A dozen or so customers probably never could have imagined what they were able to do at the pump one June 1964 day would reshape fueling forever, and also impact other retail channels.
Gas prices that end in 9/10th of a cent are standard practice today. It’s a practice that has its roots in the 1930s.
Combined state and federal gasoline taxes range from a low of 30.65 cents per gallon in Alaska to 76.6 cents per gallon in Pennsylvania. View an interactive map and a printable PDF (updated January 2017).
Half of the price of gas in 2016 was the cost of crude oil.
There are 14 unique fuels required across the United States, which complicates the efficient distribution of gasoline to consumers. This map shows which areas require these unique fuels
The Fuels Institute, which NACS helped found in 2013, has developed several research reports of note, including:
Click here to learn more.
See how supply and distribution flows in your region.
The vast majority of the fuels distributed in the United State travels via pipelines. These interactive widgets show how the network of pipelines moves product.
NACS has developed feature videos that explain the big picture of fueling, addressing both where we are going and where we have been.
A number of NACS “Convenience Matters” podcasts have focused on fueling issue.
NACS Magazine provides in-depth analysis of many issues related to fueling.