Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, said he spent two weeks collecting price data for all 50 states from the past four years to determine the best day to hit the gas station. From his observations living in Grand Rapids and visiting his parents’ Lake Michigan cottage, Monday morning might actually be prime time at the pump.
The reasoning? Wholesale markets are closed over the weekend, station owners aren’t in the office, and prices typically remain stable or even decrease a bit on Saturday and Sunday.
“Stations generally raise their prices during the week,” DeHaan said. “They’re not paying as much attention to wholesale prices on the weekend. Generally, prices are going down on the weekend because prices are not fluctuating over the weekend.”
That means the best time to gas up around here, according to DeHaan, is Monday before 10 a.m.
“Prices generally go up after 11 a.m. (Monday),” he said. “If we looked at prices on an hour-by-hour basis instead of day-by-day, the best time slot would probably be Monday morning before 10. But since we broke it down by day, Monday doesn’t show up as the best day because, by afternoon, prices would be up.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that pump prices always go up on Monday, nor does it mean prices will diligently decline on weekends. That wasn’t the trend this past weekend, when prices jumped from $3.16 to $3.49 in the Tri-Cities.
The culprit was a 6-cent hike in wholesale prices on Friday, which caused a corresponding spike at the pump.
“There are one or two weekends a year where you’ll see a price hike,” DeHaan said. “When it went higher on Friday, whatever profit margin station owners had was sucked out. They didn’t want to be selling gasoline at a loss over the weekend.
"But that really doesn’t happen a whole lot," he added. "Stations generally raise their price during the week.”
To read more of this story, and the prediction for spring pump prices, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.