Every motorist in America knows that the price of gasoline is too expensive. This is particularly evident in Santa Barbara, where gas prices are well above the national average. Last week, for instance, the national average was $3.32 per gallon, but Santa Barbarans were paying $3.80 per gallon.
In an attempt to find the best gasoline prices available, many people have been turning to Web sites like GasBuddy.com that keep track of gasoline prices at various stations all around the country and make that data available on its Web site. SantaBarbaraGasPrices.com, for instance, is a convenient shortcut to GasBuddy.com’s listings for Santa Barbara.
“GasBuddy.com is a crowd-sourcing Web site that utilizes our volunteers to submit gasoline prices in their own neighborhoods to us,” explained GasBuddy.com‘s senior petroleum analyst, Patrick DeHaan. “We essentially gather and compile that information and put it on a Web site and on our smartphone apps so that people can find out where gas is cheapest in their neighborhood.”
California has a particularly high gas tax, but that doesn’t explain why gasoline in Santa Barbara is so expensive. “The cost of doing business is higher [in California], and gas stations choose to make a higher margin because they know that in a more affluent area, such as Santa Barbara, motorists are less likely to shop around for gasoline,” DeHaan said. “People are less sensitive to the price, and so gas stations know that they can generally make a slightly better margin.”
Gasoline consumers should expect a lot of fluctuation in gas prices in the near future. “There’s a tremendous amount of volatility in the market,” DeHaan said. “Motorists should be well aware that gas prices will fluctuate for the next few months as our fragile economy in this country dictates where prices go.” Even though the economy is weakened and gas prices remain high, consumers aren’t powerless to affect the price of gasoline. Keeping gas stations competitive by finding the cheapest station around is one way to bring local gas prices down. That’s where GasBuddy.com comes in.
“We’ve seen that, in the past, stations will compete against each other to be on the cheaper side of the cheapest list on GasBuddy.com, so we believe that our service does promote competition and helps motorists,” DeHaan explained. “What consumers can do is reduce their demand. Whether it’s buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle at some point or cutting back and carpooling or some other efficient activity.” So by reducing demand for gasoline and supporting local stations with the cheapest prices, it is partially up to the consumer how much gas stations will charge.