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Gas Stations Experiencing Decreased Profits - Despite Higher Gas Prices
Higher gasoline prices are not only a source of constant frustration for consumer wallets, but convenience stores selling gasoline are also finding the higher gasoline prices a major challenge. Increased gasoline prices do not necessarily mean higher profits for retailers as one might think- instead, the higher gas prices result in higher costs that actually reduce profit margins for gasoline retailers- particularly due to the increase in the amount of credit card fees paid. As US gas prices continue to steadily climb, more people are choosing to “pay at the pump” with credit and debit cards. What was once mainly a matter of convenience for consumers in a hurry- credit card, debit card and speed pass gasoline payments have become the preferred method of payment for gasoline by most consumers. This trend for credit or debit card payment preference for gasoline purchases was shown in a February 2007 study conducted by the “National Association of Convenience Stores”, which revealed that in the year 2005, credit card fees cost an average of about $45,785(USD) for convenience stores accepting plastic for gasoline payments. In fact, the credit card fees surpassed the average revenues of these same stores during the same year- with the average convenience store selling gasoline earning an average of $42,196 pre-tax revenue in 2005.
The majority of gas buyers prefer to use their debit or credit cards to fill their gas tanks as the price for gasoline increases. It could be a combination of people who just don’t carry much cash on them, or because people aren’t willing to spend the cash they do have on hand to put gas in their vehicles! It’s kind of psychological, in a way, and temporarily helps avoid the pain associated with paying more for gasoline since the credit card bill will be delivered later, and the gasoline purchase might not be as noticeable when along side the other purchases made during the month! Additionally, many consumers use a credit card to make all of their monthly expenditures- either for the credit cards rewards program benefits or because it’s easier for them to make a single payment to the credit card each month than it is to pay for things individually throughout the month. The National Association of Convenience Stores indicates that about 65% of consumers prefer to purchase gasoline with a credit card. It’s estimated that credit card fees cost about 3% of a transaction, and that percentage includes the interchange, acquiring fees and PIN based debit transaction fees. Small convenience stores offering gasoline sales to consumers are really hurting from the increasing expense of credit card processing fees- mostly due to the increase in consumers paying with credit.
Some gasoline retailers are considering discount programs for customers who decide to pay for their gasoline purchases with cash, to help avoid some of the rising expenses in accepting credit cards as payment for these transactions. Discount programs will allow for a 1 to 6 cent decrease on the cost per gallon for gasoline for each customer who pays with cash instead of credit or debit cards- the discounts will hopefully result in a decrease use of credit cards, and the savings on credit card expenses are then shared with consumers who help the retailers save that money by paying with cash.
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