AAA thinks pumps at new Costco may drive down gas prices

 / AP File Photo/Grant Hindsley
/ AP File Photo/Grant Hindsley

AAA, which tracks gas prices like a bird dog, is all aflutter today over the prospect that cheaper gasoline will arrive in the District when pumps open at the new Costco Warehouse, located where Route 50 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway funnel in to New York Avenue just inside D.C.’s eastern border.

AAA says Costco’s prices elsewhere are usually a good bit cheaper than those of the name-brand gas stations, perhaps because Costco recognizes that people who flock to the pumps are likely to drop into the store while they’re there.

Elsewhere in the nation, customers at Costco’s more than 600 big box stores are paying almost 14 cents a gallon less on average, according to data from the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS).

“Costco was the most aggressive player, with the average Costco priced at 13.9 cents per gallon below its competitors compared with a discount of 12.3 cents per gallon, last year,” observes Fred Rozell, the Retail Pricing Director at OPIS.

Right now, AAA says people who gas up in the District are paying the region’s highest prices.

“District residents spend millions of dollars at gasoline stations outside the city,” said AAA’s John B. Townsend II. “It drains tax dollars from the city’s coffers.”

AAA said as of Sunday, a gallon of unleaded regular was fetching $3.68 a gallon in the District of Columbia. That’s 16 cents higher than the national retail average price of $3.52 per gallon. It’s also 38 cents higher than the statewide average in Virginia, where it is $3.30 per gallon and 21 cents more expensive than Maryland’s $3.47 average.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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