Tag: gasoline

A spike on the horizon?

Chicago spot gasoline:
Chicago Spot: $1.78 UP 0.0978
Costs and taxes adjustment: 0.7772
Fair Price: 2.4082
Average Michigan selling price 2.3820
Margin over cost + profit: -0.0262

USA Average: $2.479
Michigan average ( $2.382 ) is $0.097 under USA average

A spike is looming, with a negative margin in my fair price formula. It’s quite possible that the run-up on the markets won’t transfer over to your local rack prices, but I’m 90% sure of a spike tomorrow.

Expect prices anywhere from $2.37-$2.42 in Indiana, 5 cents higher in Michigan, and with the Chicago RBOB only 1 cent over regular, it could be anywhere from 0-5 cents over the Indiana price.

Is Speedway the #1 gas brand?

Recently I came upon an article that stated Speedway was ranked the number one gas brand for the fifth quarter in a row. It is a part of a multi-brand survey put out by Harris Interactive as the EquiTrend Brand Survey.

In the survey they ask people about different brands in different categories like favorite hotel (Marriott), fast food (Subway) and favorite airline (Southwest). They say they base the survey on six base measures including familiarity, quality, purchase consideration, brand expectations, distinctiveness and trust. A seventh was added this year due to the economy, value.

So, the big question is, does Speedway deserve this award? To help find that out, first I want to review my experiences at Speedway for you here. Then I want to hear from you in the comments and see what you think of the brand.

Speedway is a pretty familiar brand in these parts. They are the 800lb gorilla in the Indiana, Michigan and Ohio markets, so I can see them ranking high in this area. They also have a good ad campaign.

For gas, I haven’t had any that was bad quality in my life. Most gas comes from the same rack anyway depending on the area, so quality in gasoline is really a moot point to me. The quality of the store on the other hand sometimes leaves a lot to be desired.

Speedway stores come in three kinds; large lot, medium lot and small lot. Most of the large lot stores are of higher quality. They have a big enough lot that even with 10-14 pumps, maneuvering is easy, and there is usually parking right in front. The inside of the store can typically be a little cramped, especially when busy up near the cashiers. There is a wide selection of chips, candy, snack cakes, fountain and pre-packaged drinks, and store prepared food.

The medium lot stores carry 6-10 pumps, and are a little tighter to maneuver in. You usually have to park on the side of the store to park legally, although some people squeeze in parallel to the front of the store. The store inside is much more cramped, and the selection suffers a little, too. The feel of quality is diminished here because the shopping experience is just not as good.

This is nothing compared to the small lot stores, which have 4-6 pumps, not even enough room to park in front of the store, have a very small selection of items and more than two people inside the store is pushing it. I have seen quite a few small lot stores demolished and rebuilt, re-branded to Rich stations, or just let go. They really drag down the quality of the brand in my eyes.

The inside of the store is usually clean, and I also give them good marks for clean bathrooms. Generally while cramped, the shelves are usually well stocked, and organized. Cashiers are sometimes rude, but overall I’ve had good experiences with them. Sadly, the free air to pump up my tires is now gone, one of my biggest complaints as of late.

Everybody’s heard of the Speedy rewards program. It’s free to sign up, and you can use it to get free stuff on purchases at Speedway. It has been a declining program, as a whole, however. At first you could get 10 points a dollar on any purchase. But as gas prices increased, they dropped the points you could earn for fuel purchase to 10 points per gallon. I used to be able to save up enough points to get a car wash 2-3 times a year (around 5000 points) but now I just use it to get the occasional soda (750 points).

For fuel purchasers like me, it’s not much of a reward program anymore, unless of course I go inside to buy a $50 gas card for fuel purchases, which puts an instant 1000 points on top of the 200-300 I’ll get for fuel purchases. They have also had 5 cents a gallon off during the weekends in September. They also say they have a surprise for us in November. Also, if you signed up for the Speedway MasterCard from Chase, you’ve seen your points diminish as well, as Patrick has commented on here previously.

So, is Speedway the best C-Store experience for me? I would have to say my favorite C-Store is BP. They are almost always three things; never crowded due to the size and spacing of the store, friendly, and clean. Of course, that’s just my experience in Indiana. I’d like to see more MotoMarts here as well after my visit to St. Louis in the dead of summer this year. Nice, big, clean, well stocked and besides flavor shots for your fountain drinks, they also have energy shots. Yum and zoom.

So, what are your thoughts on Speedway? And what do you consider the best gas brand out there?

Prices will rise again.

Chicago spot gasoline:
Michigan Fair price: ( $1.8608 +$0.6367 ) = $2.4975
Average selling price – fair price: ( $2.487 – $2.4975 )=
Margin over cost + profit: -$0.0105

Wholesale is up again, almost 9 cents in the last two days. Margins have dried up to almost nothing/negative numbers. If you are needing gas, I’d fill up tonight or early tomorrow. We could spike up to the same levels seen during the last spike, although the NW counties in Indiana may get a better break since the Chicago RBOB spot is only 2 cents over the Chicago Spot.

New week, prices should still fall

It looks like speculators are getting the boot when it comes to gas and oil. As of this morning they continue to fall as more bearish fundamentals are being used to control the market. What this means for you is even lower prices in gasoline.

Currently the average price of gas is beginning to catch up to wholesale, which has dropped more than 30 cents since it’s high on June 30th. Margins are at about 10 cents, from a high of 25 cents last week as prices have dropped 20 cents since July 2nd.

If wholesale were to flatten out now, we could see our prices level out in the low $2.30s. But the forecast is for wholesale to drop even further. Widespread $2.20s could greet the end of the week, and the near future could give us some stations into the $2 teens.

A Rant About Shortages and Speculators

Comment on my May 27 posting:  On Thursday, May 28, prices started to rise at the end of the day to $2.75.  Since then, there have been hikes to $2.85 on Tuesday and $2.95 today.

Thursday, June 4, 2009, 6:35PM:  I haven’t been very helpful with the price hikes this week, but Bill has!  Let’s reflect a bit on the past five weeks.  We have gone from $1.99 a gallon in Standale on April 27 to $2.95 a gallon today.  Why?  First we have numerous reports of mild gasoline shortages in the Midwest.  Good job, gasoline industry, in managing this vital part of our economy!  Second, the rise in gasoline prices has mirrored rises in the price of a barrel of oil (almost $20 a barrel) and in the Dow (almost 700 points) since April 27.  Yes, as I’ve written before, we are dealing with speculators again.  The price is being influenced by people who are demanding oil and gas as investments, rather than as fuel.  While in the long run, higher prices will inspire new and cleaner fuels, which I support, in the short run, just as we are digging ourselves out of recession caused in part by financial geniuses who bought and sold “default swaps” and other products they couldn’t afford to support, prices spiking to $3 could cause it all to grind to halt again, like it did last summer.  Great.  Hopefully these artificially high prices in Chicagoland will soon attract cheaper gasoline from other parts of the country.

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