When Will Low leaves his James Bay home each morning for work, he has come to expect the price of gas at his local station won’t be the same when he returns at the end of the day.
The recent bout of ever-fluctuating gas prices “is really hard to get a handle on,” said Low, who teaches business and sustainability at Royal Roads University. “It doesn’t follow the usual way that gas price wars work.
“Where it came from and how long it will last is a mystery.”
Typically, the rise and fall of prices are dictated by market conditions, and reflect the value of crude oil, which is on the rise, said Low.
The yo-yo effect is sometimes influenced by one gas company looking to increase its customer base — which may be what is happening in Greater Victoria, said Jason Toews, co-founder of GasBuddy.com.
His Regina-based company relies on a network of volunteer watchers who post what they’re seeing at gas pumps in Canada and the U.S.
The information is posted online so consumers can find the cheapest gas nearest them. Greater Victoria prices at the pump can be found at VictoriaGasPrices.com.
“Costco seems to be the one who’s leading this, going up and down,” Toews said, adding that the strategy is meant to attract customers, who can only purchase the gas if they have a Costco membership.
That prompts competing gas companies to follow suit, though there is a profit loss.
“It’s not a sustainable way of doing business,” said Toews. “It’s more of a temporary thing to try to drum up business and gain loyalty with the gas stations.”
But Low isn’t convinced Costco is driving this recent stint of yo-yoing prices.
“You don’t tend to see such low prices or daily fluctuations,” he said, adding that some prices have fluctuated by as much as 12 cents a litre within a few hours at the same gas station.
“We’ll have a bit of fun with it,” said Low. “I think it’s just a matter of enjoying it while it lasts because we know it won’t last.”