High Prices Pound Gas Stations

Squeezed margins drive many out of business
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2008 6:22 PM CDT
Gas prices are seen on signs at two gas stations in Milwaukee, Ore., Thursday, July, 3, 2008.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Angry at gas stations for profiting on your financial misery? Think again, the Wall Street Journal reports: They're fast going out of business as oil prices rise. This year's 40% price hike has sent costs soaring, shuttering 3,000 US stations and causing Exxon Mobile to announce the sale of 2,200 more. Closings will also hurt consumers, creating less convenience, less competition, and possibly higher prices.

Stations began a slow decline in the 1990s, but owners still enjoyed low investment and decent profits. Now margins are plummeting: Retailers recently recorded a 15 cent profit per gallon, down from 21 cents a year ago. One Texas owner saw a truck of gasoline go from $10,000 to $35,000. "I'm hanging in there and hoping for the better," he said.