Expert explains why gas prices in Kansas vary from city to city

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Alexis Faudoa doesn't know it, but filling up in Hutchinson instead Wichita is actually saving her money.

"Being a high school student sometimes can be kind of hard just trying to find money to get gas,” she said.

In fact, gas in Hutchinson is nearly 20 cents cheaper than in Wichita.

Patrick DeHaan with explains why.

"In Hutchinson, there are a couple of retailers that tend to be more aggressive with bringing prices down and I'm not seeing as many of those types of stations in Wichita,” DeHaan says. “Which means that since these aggressive stations are in Hutchinson, prices may be a little lower there driven by the fact that there's a higher level of competition."

DeHaan is the head of petroleum analysis for the website. GasBuddy tracks prices nationwide.

He says the more competition, the cheaper the prices. It’s the reason you see gas go from $2.63 at the QuikTrip on the west side to another station just down the road offering it at 17 cents less.

And another reason you may see gas prices go up in your area is because of price cycling. Gas stations like QuikTrip do it, and it's where they higher their prices and then they lower them quickly to gain business. It’s an up and down, up and down cycle. Experts say it's a strategy that dominates the industry.

It might make you feel like you’re being ripped off, but it's not the gas station's fault.

"A lot of times when gas prices go up, it has nothing to do with them,” DeHaan explained. “It has everything to do with global supply and demand and OPEC which cut oil production which is why our gas this summer has been so much higher than last.”  

While prices can vary from station to station and town to town, it pays to shop around.

For students like Madison West, every penny can matter when you’re on a fixed income.

"I have to pay for all my school stuff, so I wish that I could pay for more like that and stuff to spend on myself rather than gas,” said West.  

To track gas prices in Wichita, visit GasBuddy.  

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