Some good news: Gas prices have been falling for about 40 days in a row. Overall, gas in Washington state is down 43 cents from the record high set on June 16, putting the current average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas at $5.12.
Drivers will notice disparities across gas stations depending on where you’re filling up. In Seattle, Bellevue and Everett, the average is $5.31, while it’s $5.02 in Tacoma. The lowest gas average in western Washington is in Mount Vernon-Anacortes, where the average is $4.82, down a whopping 67 cents from the high of $5.49.
During peak prices, the difference in average highs between Seattle and Mount Vernon was only 20 cents, but it’s currently a difference of 50 cents.
Experts say those bigger disparities in prices across gas stations show some retailers are reluctant to adjust prices lower.
Jeff Shulman, a professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Businesses, says prices are typically slow to fall.
“In general, it’s really hard to raise prices because consumers notices prices rising. Once you’ve raised prices successfully, you don’t want to drop them because you’ve maintained that same profit,” Shulman said.
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In Seattle, many gas stations are still holding on to gas prices at $5.69 a gallon, which is Seattle-Bellevue-Everett’s record average high set back on June 17.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s depressing. Almost $6 for gas is crazy,” said Bishop Bear, an Auburn driver who commutes to Seattle. “Then, you’re stuck in traffic. I’m about to run out of gas a lot, you know what I mean?” he said.
“It’s hard. It’s hard for the average Joe to even get by,” said Dustin Swinehart, another driver who commutes to Seattle.
The good news: Experts expect gas prices to keep falling over the next few weeks.
“I expect the price of gas will continue to come down slowly in the short term,” Shulman said.
Shipman said the biggest reason for the price drop is sticker shock, which has caused drivers to change their behavior. In response, crude oil prices have dropped, and retailers are now following suit, albeit slowly.
“I walk more now. I’ve lost, like, 20 pounds,” Bear said.
“Do the speed limit and try to avoid extra driving,” Swinehart said.
Shulman warns that if storms disrupt refineries once hurricane season takes full force, prices could go back up again.
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