As Hurricane Ike slammed into Texas’ coastal oil refining region, gas prices spiked across the nation, in some places topping $5 a gallon. But experts blame consumers for the temporary increase, as increased demand drove up prices.
Although the damage to Texas’ oil production was minimal, consumers raced to gas stations Friday and Saturday, fearing lowered production would raise prices. That fear was a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, American gasoline supplies were never in danger.
“When you have a perceived scarcity of any product, research shows the attractiveness of that product goes up,” Dr. Rao Unnava, a marketing professor
at Ohio State University, told CNN.
Some states took measures to prevent price gouging, but many experts defend the gas station proprietors. Most make only pennies a gallon, and use gasoline sales to lure customers into convenience stores
, where the proprietor makes his or her real profits. Raising prices can extend their gas supply, increasing the number of convenience store customers.
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