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Cities with wildest gas price fluctuations

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When gasoline prices go up in your neighborhood it’s hard to imagine that anyone else has it worse. Who’s got the worst price volatility in the country? Which markets see the steepest price hikes? Where do the gas stations and convenience stores change the prices most frequently? GasBuddy says they have found the answers.

“While major markets like LA, NY and Chicago get much of the attention and criticism, they’re not even in the top 20 among cities that see the steepest price hikes,” says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “The steep price hikes recorded in more than 25 cities in the Midwest dwarf the increases seen in the rest of the country.” He said no place is worse than Ft. Wayne, Indiana. So far this year, Fort Wayne has recorded the highest single day average price hike—34 cents per gallon—among its three highest daily changes. It is followed by: Indianapolis, (.32); Dayton, OH (.31); Columbus, OH (.30) and Toledo, OH (.28).

DeHaan emphasized that the figures represent the average of the three highest single-day price spikes and that Midwesterners have seen 30-plus cent increases often enough to know they’re not a statistical anomaly.

On the west coast, Bakersfield, CA had the largest increase in its single-day prices (taking the average of the highest three daily spikes) with a nine-cent gain. In the Rocky Mountains region, Colorado Springs led the list with an 11-cent single day spike. The Gulf Coast region’s highest single-day spike was recorded in Lubbock TX (14 cents per gal.) while on the East Coast it was Myrtle Beach, SC posting an 11-cent increase to lead that region.

GasBuddy examined frequency of price changes too and found that the Midwest and West Coast regions led the way with the number of days that prices changed a penny or more per gallon.

Nationwide, stations in Stockton, CA have posted 72 days of price changes over a penny per gallon since January 1, while Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN and New Haven CT have all recorded 67 increases of 1 cent or more. “While small cities lead the way among markets with the steepest price spikes, we saw some larger Midwestern cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit positioned prominently among the leaders for days with one cent or more price increases (see maps for more information), and that undoubtedly fuels consumer anxiety in places where there’s plenty already,” said Gregg Laskoski, another senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “But when we look at the number of days with average price decreases of more than a penny, we see the Midwestern cities more than doubling every other region in the country,” DeHaan noted, “and it’s the downside of that rollercoaster ride that consumers easily forget. We complain about the higher highs, but we’re quiet when we benefit from the lower lows!”

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