Consumer Alert: There’s good and bad news on the gas front

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In our consumer alert, we have good news and bad news. First, here’s the good news. The price of a gallon of gas in Rochester fell about a nickel in a week. But that doesn’t compare to how much the price of gas fell nationally. That’s the bad news. Nationally, the price of a gallon of gas fell an average of 15 cents in a week, a dime more than it fell here.

And that’s really frustrating. According to Gasbuddy, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Rochester was $4.53 and nationally it was $4.01. That’s a difference of 52 cents.

The price of gas has been falling for eight weeks. And every week, I compare how much the price is falling nationally to what we’re seeing here. And every week, the price falls at least twice as much nationally as it does in Rochester. The experts at Gasbuddy say this is not just a New York phenomenon. Across the northeast, gas is higher because the price of wholesale gas is higher in the northeast.

I checked. Today the wholesale price in the northeast is 36 cents higher. That’s due in part to the fact that we have few refineries in our area. So we pay the price for getting the gas here and any bottlenecks along the way drive the price even higher.

But here’s another head-scratcher. I checked for you. The cheapest gas in Rochester Monday was $3.97 at Costco. BJ’s in Henrietta and Walmart. Experts tell me those three big box stores usually sell gas significantly less because they have a different profit model. For example, BJ’s and Costco may sell gas at a loss to get you to buy a membership and get in the door where the real money is made.

But the highest gas in our area is here at a Sunoco in Rochester where gas is 92 cents higher,$4.89. And that’s the cash price. It’s $5.00 if you use a credit card. Recently, I asked Jim Calvin, the past president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, about the wide range of prices in our area.

"It is a competitive marketplace, and again, if the consumer does not feel as if the price is reasonable or low enough, then there are other sources of the product that they can find."

He went on to say that the volume of gas sold helps determine the price the gas station owner sets. He says stations that sell more gas can afford to set their prices lower. That means it’s up to us to make sure we’re getting the best deal.

That’s why it’s so important to use a gas app to find the cheapest price near you. Here are six of my favorites.