The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gas in San Diego County is up 10.9 cents on Thursday, averaging $5.71, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
So how do San Diego County gas operators decide on their prices and determine how much to charge at the pump?
“I’m seeing our customers come here and smile and say, 'You are one of the cheapest stations here we come to, how do you do it?,'” said Circle Market Spring Valley owner Mike Namou.
Circle Market in Spring Valley off Bancroft Drive is known by locals to have low gas prices, even during this period of all-time high prices.
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“How do I arrive at $5.29 a gallon?,” asked Namuo. “Basically, I look at the margins, I look at our competitors, and I try to price anywhere 2 to 5% below them from what I see out there. It’s like doing your homework, if I’m not doing my homework I’m not making my customers happy."
Namou says he keeps a close watch on the market every day and searches wholesalers looking to buy low to pass the savings on to his customers. The feat is not easy when the market has been volatile, for instance, Namou says he’s seen prices jump up 30 cents from the morning to evening.
“Luckily for us with non-branded sites we can try and shop out there and we can find out who has got the best pricing and of course, we buy from the wholesaler and we bring that kind of savings onto our site,” he explained.
Then there are other factors at play when it comes to setting a price.
While the Spring Valley location can manage with lower overhead costs and minimal labor costs, there is also the addition of the state and federal gas tax. All this in mind while Namou says he's not making much of a profit on selling gas.
“Our margins on gas is very low, where we make our margins are of course our goods and services inside the store,” he said.