High fuel prices could be blamed on buying habits

Published 11:00pm Friday, January 25, 2013

Although the state and national average price of gas has decreased since last year, residents are still paying more than they should at the pump due to lack of price shopping.

Clay Ingram, AAA-Alabama spokesperson, said there are two main factors that drive down gas prices — fuel conservation and effective price shopping. And effective price shopping, Ingram said, hasn’t been practiced as much as it should.

“And to be honest, that’s one of the primary reasons why we’ve seen gas prices as high as they were last year and as high as they are now,” Ingram said.

Last year’s state average was $3.48. For Selma, the current average price of gas per gallon is $3.30, a three-cent increase to what it was about a week ago, Ingram said. December’s average price was $3.23.

Prices have been steadily climbing because residents don’t actively seek the cheapest gas, Ingram said, which results in higher prices.

“In my opinion, I don’t think we should be over $3 a gallon in Alabama, but we are because we’re just not price shopping,” Ingram said. “We all pull in to the same little gas station because that’s where we go to buy our gas. It’s convenient and it’s close.”

If more people were to actively price shop, Ingram said fuel prices would drastically drop — and quickly.

“Over a very short period of time that will motivate all the other stations to cut their prices to try and get our business,” he said. “We have the power to force those prices down, we’re just not using them.”

In smaller, more rural areas like Selma, Ingram said other factors could contribute to the high price of gas, but lack of price shopping is still a large factor.

“It could be maybe that Selma has a different tax structure than some of the surrounding towns and counties,” Ingram suggested. “It might be that those retailers have to pay a little bit more for transportation costs to get the fuel delivered to Selma.”

One way to find the best fuel price in your area, Ingram said, is to log on to www.AAA.com and use the fuel price finder tool.

“It’s free and easy and will show you where the cheapest gas in your area is,” Ingram said. “The more people we have to participate in that behavior the more powerful it is and the lower prices will drop.”

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