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Florida gas prices reach 20-week high

Prices spiked unexpectedly over the past week, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group.
Florida gas prices reach 20-week high this week. Pictured is traffic on US Hwy 19 in late March. | [Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
Florida gas prices reach 20-week high this week. Pictured is traffic on US Hwy 19 in late March. | [Douglas R. Clifford | Times] [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 5, 2020

Gas prices in Florida hit an unexpected 20-week high this week.

Sunshine State prices averaged $2.15 a gallon Tuesday, up 9 cents from last Monday, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay gas matched the state average, up 15 cents from a week ago.

The spike was a surprise because wholesale prices for gasoline and oil held steady over the past few weeks, and Hurricane Isaias, which brushed Florida this weekend, did not contribute to heightened gas prices.

“Often times when you see an increase occur like this toward the end of the month, retailers are adjusting prices as they enter a new contract month,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.

Because the pandemic has dampened gasoline consumption, retailers such as gas stations are selling less fuel. They then adjust prices, Jenkins said, to make up the margin for fuel they expected to sell but didn’t.

Jenkins said that while it’s difficult to predict where gas prices will go next because of week-to-week developments in the markets and with COVID-19, there may be lower prices ahead because of increased gasoline inventories.

“(It’s) heavily driven by sentiment around the coronavirus,” he said, “and that can push gas prices 10 cents lower or higher in one to two weeks time.”

The spike comes shortly after Florida was on track to hit a 16-year low on gas prices last month. In late July, Florida gas prices averaged $2.08 per gallon, about 61 cents lower on average than the same time last year. The drop in pricing was largely due to reduced fuel demand during the pandemic.

Related: Florida gas prices on track to hit 16-year low

Florida’s most expensive gas came from West Palm Beach (averaging $2.25 per gallon), Homosassa Springs (averaging $2.17 per gallon) and Port St. Lucie (averaging $2.17 per gallon). The state’s lowest gas prices were in Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola and Punta Gorda, all averaging $2.09 a gallon Tuesday.

Nationally, gas was $2.18 a gallon on average Tuesday

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