Drivers are the only winners in an ongoing price war among gas stations in one town in Minnesota.
At least five gas stations in the town of Hastings, Minnesota, about 30 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, are engaged in an ongoing battle over who can charge the lowest prices in town, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. The stations were all charging just $3.39 per gallon, well below the local average price. The price war has delighted local drivers, who come from miles around to take advantage of the lower prices.
“This has gone on for the last few weeks,” GasBuddy chief petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “These stations have aggressively been bringing prices down. It’s certainly been an interesting time watching them.”
According to the Star-Tribune, the average price for a gallon of gas in Minneapolis currently stands at around $3.95 per gallon. Meanwhile, the county average price in Dakota County, where Hastings is the county seat, currently stands at around $3.89 a gallon, according to AAA. The five stations, which include two Holidays, one Kwik Trip, one Speedway, and one M&H, are all charging some 50 cents less than the local average, just $3.39.
De Haan told the Star-Tribune that Hastings is the only place where such a price war is happening in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, but other stations in exurban areas are charging well below the average: a couple of stations in the town of Rockford, about 25 miles west of Minneapolis, are charging just $3.49 a gallon; in Buffalo, about 10 miles northwest of Rockford, gas is even lower than in Hastings, with a pair of stations charging just $3.31.
De Haan said the stations, which already have paper-thin margins, most likely can’t afford to charge much less, and are not making much money as it is. “Probably not a whole lot beyond a couple shiny pennies or so,” De Haan said of the stations’ profits. The situation is unlikely to change, he added; lowering prices is essentially required to keep attracting customers, and things will only change if and when one station raises its prices and the others follow suit.
Whatever the profits are for the stations, local drivers, and some visitors from neighboring towns, are taking advantage.
“Thank you. That’s all I can say is, thank you,” Carol Dettinger, who drove nearly 25 miles from nearby Stillwater to fill up, told the Star-Tribune. “I wish other people would have this gas war.”
“We’re from Wisconsin and it’s always cheaper right in here,” landscaper Dave Komay told the outlet.
“It’s really busy around here, I’ll tell you that,” Hastings resident Mindy Bekker said of the Kwik Trip station.
The price war in Minnesota follows a similar “friendly competition” between rival gas stations in Virginia that pushed the stations to slash prices below $3 a gallon in July.
Gas prices have continued to fall after months of consecutive record highs. The current national average sits at about $3.92 per gallon, according to AAA. That is more than a dollar less than when gas was at its highest average price, just under $5.02 a gallon, set on June 14. The Biden administration has attempted to take credit for falling prices, but experts point out that prices continue to fall because drivers are simply driving less as a means of coping with inflation, among other reasons.