Record Price Diversity as Memorial Day Weekend Approaches
The nationwide average price of gasoline(NYMEX:RBM14) some seven days ahead of the Memorial Day weekend is almost identical with price levels seen in 2013 and 2012, but dramatic differences are observed when one moves beyond the average and examines detailed fuel prices in states and cities.
The nationwide average this weekend is likely to be between $3.60-$3.64 per gallon, or within a few pennies of the $3.64 average from Memorial Day 2012 and the $3.63 average on the holiday in 2013. But statewide averages should range between $3.35 and $4.35, reflecting the widest regional diversity in recent memory. What’s more, the diversity is bi-directional with some states kicking off the driving season with much lower price offerings, while other areas find stiff increases versus previous years.
One year ago, Minnesotans faced average unleaded regular prices of $4.20 to $4.30 ahead of Memorial Day weekend. This year, those same Minnesotan drivers find average prices of $3.50.
The rest of the U.S. heartland finds distinctly advantaged prices when compared to last year. Average price decreases of 10¢ to 30¢ per gallon regularly show up in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
In contrast, consumers in about half of the 50 states now see average gasoline prices that are 10¢ to 30¢ higher when compared to last year. Pennsylvania motorists are the most adversely impacted, paying about 30¢ more than what they meted out for fuel one year ago. Smaller, but considerable, year-on-year increases show up at every East and Gulf Coast state as well as a few western states such as California and Nevada (see chart).
What’s behind this incredibly diverse U.S. fuel picture?
GasBuddy.com, an online portal that provides local gas prices throughout the country, compiled a short list of the key steering currents which have acted to depress prices for many inland markets, while lifting values on the coasts. Examples include: