Gas Station | Ask the CFP Practitioner

Gas Station | Ask the CFP Practitioner
Gas Station | Ask the CFP Practitioner

Answer: If only it were that easy! In the United States, retail sales, which include gasoline sales, are reported by certain distribution channels. Gasoline distribution channels are gas stations. Sales at these locations, which are often convenience stores, include all the ancillary goods they have for sale. The reported figures include items such as snacks, sodas, gum, coffee, tobacco, and more. If you have ever been in a Buc-ees, Wawa or RaceTracYou know what I mean.

Pure gasoline sales, as well as total sales at gas stations, have declined or at least remained flat over the past few decades. Gas stations generally make more profit from convenience store sales than from gasoline sales. The decline in traffic has hurt their ability to improve their bottom line.

Advances in more fuel-efficient, lower-mileage cars and more electric vehicles on the road have contributed to a decline in gasoline sales. We may also be driving less as our behavior and habits have changed post-pandemic.


Interestingly, other retail distribution channels have seen similar declines to gasoline sales, but for different reasons. Distribution outlets such as department stores, furniture stores, and retail locations in general have lost ground to online retailers. A look at shopping malls and malls shows the resurgence of online sales during and after the pandemic. Many consumers who value the convenience and time savings of online shopping have not necessarily returned to shopping in physical stores. This phenomenon also reduced miles driven and, therefore, gasoline purchases. Before the pandemic, the non-stationary retail distribution system (online) accounted for about 15% of sales. Today, online sales account for about 22% of total retail sales, as documented by the US Bureau of Economic Analytics (BEA).

Admittedly, we are all tired of discussing how the pandemic has changed our lives. The impacts and consequences range from work to education, communication, travel, tourism, and shopping, be it for clothes, medicine, or groceries. According to, the total number of full-time and part-time employees at Amazon was 563,100 in the first quarter of 2018, increased to 1.62 million in the first quarter of 2022, and settled at 1.521 million in the first quarter of 2024. Amazon’s net revenue was $232.89 billion in 2018 and was $574.78 billion at the end of 2023, with inflation affecting these figures.


The May personal income and spending report, which included the inflation rate, shows progress toward the Fed’s target of 2% annual inflation after the huge inflation rates we saw post-pandemic. Housing costs are still keeping inflation higher than we would like to see at this stage of the recovery. Housing prices are expected to ease as inventory increases in both the existing and new-home markets; supply and demand simply affect prices. This will not immediately impact costs, but is more good news for Fed officials as they look ahead to the inflation outlook for next year and their ability to cut interest rates.

Back to Gas

While the total number of vehicle miles driven has declined during the pandemic, it is actually slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels, at 3.273 million miles over the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Those with an electric car charging station in their home can charge at home and avoid impulse purchases and detours for shopping trips. Those of us who own a car with an internal combustion engine cannot fill up the tank online, which means we continue to drive to the gas station, often involving additional purchases. To answer your question: Gasoline sales are down, but not completely off. Americans are keeping moving. Stay focused and plan accordingly.

The opinions expressed are those of the author as of June 30, 2024, but not necessarily those of Raymond James & Associates, and are subject to change at any time due to market conditions and other factors. There is no assurance that any statements, opinions or forecasts contained herein will prove to be accurate. Reference to specific companies is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation.

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL Main™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) certification marks in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the initial and ongoing CFP Board examinations. Certification Requirements.” This article was provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, First Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member of the New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She can be reached at (239)389-1041, email: [email protected].