Why do Gas prices feel so high?


Keith Holmes Jr.

The gas pump at the Circle K on 1194 Forsyth St, Macon, GA. The price was $2.89 a gallon and the total ended up being $19.88 for 6.8 gallons of gasoline.

In 2021, gas prices appear to be rising, especially relative to 2020. 

Filling up a 15 gallon tank, at $2.83 a gallon, would cost you $42.45 at the average Macon gas station. That $2.83 a gallon is 66 cents higher than 2020’s national average of $2.17 a gallon.  

While the numbers seem to show gas prices skyrocket, the reality is that gas prices were substantially lower, on average, in 2020 relative to other years such as 2018 or 2019.

In 2018 and 2019, gas prices averaged $2.72 a gallon and $2.6 a gallon respectively. 

Georgia gas prices were so low in 2020 because COVID-19 prompted both “shelter in place” orders from Governor Brian Kemp and a decreased need to travel as many companies moved to remote work

The shut down of the Colonial Pipeline due to a cyber attack was one of the main factors of the rising of gas prices. Not because of the pipeline’s shutdown itself, Colonial had stores of gasoline saved up in case of a shutdown, but because of the consumer reaction. 

Panic buying is a normal consumer behavior. Back in September of 2017, just before Hurricane Irma, there was an influx in the overfilling of gas tanks across Middle Georgia. Consumers also panic bought in 2021, filling their tanks or buying spare tanks to fill, when Colonial Pipeline was shut down.

What really increased gas prices was panic buying, but also the idea that the comparative low-cost of gas during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was normal. If gas prices continue to climb, however, they may begin to approach 2012’s all time high average of $3.62 a gallon.  

Hearing that gas prices are around normal levels isn’t helpful to someone like Marcus McConnell. McConnell drives every day for his work at Cotton’s Appliance Repair LLC and said he noticed that gas prices were higher when they began cutting into his profits. 

But, he couldn’t go without gas. “You gotta drive so you gotta have gas,” he said. “Regardless of what the price is, gotta have gas.”

Websites like gasbuddy.com can help consumers find the cheapest gas pumps near them in the meantime as prices continue to fluctuate.