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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- NACS, The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, is disputing research by the Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) that gas retailers are saving $1 billion annually at the expense of consumers as a result of the Durbin Amendment.
Citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration and research provided by Phoenix Marketing International, the coalition's data states that nearly 134 billion gallons of gas were sold in 2011, with approximately 48 billion gallons purchased using debit cards. However, according to the EPC, there is no evidence that retailers are passing along savings realized from the Durbin Amendment -- which went into effect in October -- at gas stations, where half of all non-cash payments for fuel are made with a debit card (36 percent of all payments including cash).
For its part, a NACS spokesperson told CSNews Online that "this 'research' shows the banks' absolute ignorance of the fuels market."
"When gas prices rise, retailers usually constrict their margins because they want to remain competitive -- even as their wholesale costs increase," explained Jeff Lenard, vice president of industry advocacy. "Oil Price Information Service numbers show the average national markup, or gross margin, for gas was 13 cents a gallon over the first quarter of the year. The convenience store industry estimates the costs of selling gas at around 15 cents a gallon, which means many average retailers lost money selling gas for the entire quarter.
"Retailers knew that when they can reduce costs, they can reduce prices at the pump and that customers will respond by giving them their business. NACS has years of consumer data to show how consumers will change their behavior to save as little as a penny per gallon. This EPC 'research' clearly takes none of the actual dynamics of the marketplace into account," he added.