With summer only a few weeks away, many Sedalia residents may be planning to travel and although gas prices are beginning to rise again, they are much better than in years past.
Across Sedalia, prices have risen 40 cents in the last month with an increase of 20 cents from Sunday to Monday this week alone.
On Wednesday, prices at various gas stations in the local area were within a few cents of each other. Prices varied for regular gas from $1.93 at Casey’s General Store, 3500 W. 16th St., to $1.94 at Cenex, located at East Broadway Boulevard and Monroe Avenue, to $1.92 at Phillips 66, at Thompson Boulevard and Clarendon Road.
According to reports by GasBuddy on Wednesday, prices across the United States were averaging $2.227 a gallon for regular, with prices in Missouri at $1.972 per gallon. In Pettis County, prices for regular were reflected at $1.941.
AAA Vice President of Public Affairs Michael J. Right said by phone Wednesday from the Missouri Office in St. Louis he believes Missourians will see a good summer with prices staying within budgets.
“Well right now we’re looking at a statewide average price of $1.97 a gallon,” he said. “That’s down from what it was this same time last year, when it was $2.34 a gallon. So, we’re noticeably lower …
“We’ve seen some fluctuation in pricing, especially in recent weeks, obviously,” he noted. “For example, (Tuesday), the average was 5 cents higher than it is today. Often times we’ll see spurts in gasoline pricing only to be followed by a gradual decline.
“Typically what happens is we pay the highest amount for gasoline right around Memorial Day weekend,” he stated. “We’re certainly leading up to that right now. So, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we see prices trend upward at least for the next couple weeks as they get adjusted to the supply and demand situation.”
He added that two things were occurring — the cost of crude oil was going up and had been since January. This increase has “driven up” the cost of wholesale gasoline.
“Ultimately, that’s what drives up retail prices,” he said. “In addition to that, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in demand for gasoline this year compared to previous years. So, the supply and demand is getting a little out of whack.
“That may add to the fact that in some areas there’s a tightening of supply,” he noted. “Although there’s no need to be concerned about supply, because we have oodles and gobs of crude oil.”
Right said the increase in gasoline demand is due to a better economy.
“Unemployment is down,” he added. “I think the sense of public is much more upbeat right now than it was in previous years. We’re gradually and almost all the way out of the recession that began back in 2007 or 2008.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase of consumer confidence since that time,” he said. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of people who are traveling. The airlines are a typical example. They’re recording record profits. I think it’s going to be a busy summer travel season.”
He added that for the remainder of this year consumers should see “noticeably” lower prices at the gas pumps than in years past.
Dave Lewis, of Olathe, Kansas, was getting gas Wednesday morning at the Cenex station located at East Broadway Boulevard and South Monroe Avenue. Lewis, who was visiting family in Sedalia, said he wasn’t surprised at the rise in prices.
“Part of it is just the season,” he added. “The oil companies kind of control the supply. Oil prices have been so darn low, that’s killed the gas prices. Any improvement on that, which we’ve seen, jacks the price up a lot.”
Brady (who refused to give his last name), of Marshall, was pumping gas into his truck at Phillips 66 Temp Stop at 4575 S. Limit Ave., on Wednesday and expressed he was comfortable with the price increase.
“I think it’s pretty fair,” he said.
He added that he thought the rise in prices had to do with summer travel.
“There’s going to be a whole lot more traveling, but it’s a whole lot better than the way it was a few years ago,” he noted. “I can’t complain as long as it’s below $2.”
A report from GasBuddy, obtained from the last eight years, stated Missouri’s highest recorded average in July 2008 was $3.953; the lowest recorded price was $1.376 on Feb. 11 this year. This year’s highest rate, so far, was April 29 with $1.997.
On Wednesday, the average regular gas prices in Missouri were considerably lower when compared to prices of $2.810 in California and $2.401 in Pennsylvania.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.