- 18 Dec
Oil drops below $55 a barrel, consumers expect gas prices to drop
At the close of the NYMEX today, Oil traded at $54.70 bbl, down $1.77 from yesterday. Gas prices continue to plummet across the US, and experts predict that gas prices are not yet at their lowest.
That’s a pretty safe prediction, given that it takes time for decreased NYMEX oil prices to make their way through refining, to wholesale, to the retail channel. And since a $5 drop in crude can equate to a $0.12 drop in gas prices, it’s not unreasonable to expect retail fuel prices to drop that much in the coming days. Many fuel retailers are experiencing a time when their replacement margins are routinely below their actual margins, since the cost of buying a new load today is less than what they paid yesterday (or last week, depending on how quickly they turn over the inventory in their tanks).
What does this mean from a fuel price management perspective? First, it means we can expect to see increased retail fuel margins to finish off the year. That should make Q4 of this year one of the strongest in recent history.
Second, it’s important to consider that the retail fuel pricing game is not as simple as the basic price elasticity principles you learned in Microeconomics 101. Consumer psychology is always at play. As a wise fuel manager once taught me, sometimes lower gas prices lead to the customer reaction of waiting to see if the prices drop even further. And now that the US culture has started to get used to falling gas prices, just because you drop retail fuel prices at your locations doesn’t mean you’ll automatically see an uptick in fuel volumes.
The retail fuel pricing business requires no less finesse in these times than in times of low fuel margins. Fuel pricing software like PriceAdvantage continues to be critical for analyzing your business so you can always have the right price at every store all the time.