"Regionally, the price of gasoline to the consumer includes the quality of gasoline they are buying and whether the total federal and state taxes go into that retail price," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. "The high price markets are in California, Hawaii and Alaska. California gas prices are particularly high, because they have had refinery problems that restricted their supply over the past year."
In addition, the direction of oil price swings affects gasoline prices. One of the main reasons gas prices rise or fall is the fluctuation in the price of crude. U.S. refineries buy millions of barrels of oil every day, so even a minute change in price can make a difference in what they can charge consumers for gasoline.
"Gas prices drop because of the decline in wholesale prices. During the period from Thanksgiving to President's Day, there is a quicker reaction time to the drop in wholesale prices, because demand is poor. You might lose sales to someone who undercuts your price by a nickel," Kloza said. "In the spring and summer months, retailers are less likely to match declines in wholesale prices because they can keeping prices higher since more people are driving."