I heard somewhere over the past couple of days that retail stores like Home Depot and Costco are getting themselves into the gasoline game. This could be fun. Should that happen anytime soon, I would expect some fireworks. You can be sure that retail outlets like these would view gasoline as a clear loss leader in order to get more bodies into their stores to buy the stuff with the fatter margins. So what happens when the ‘ol Home Depot starts advertising gas prices .30 cents lower than your local Mobil? Do we get into a scenario where there’s actually cars in gas lines again? Do the big boys like Exxon/Mobil flip out like the record labels did a few years ago when CD’s were used as loss leaders in stores like Lechmere (ah, Lechmere, how we miss you). At the same time, companies like Exxon/Mobil understand that gas lines means demand and maybe they do sell their gas to Home Depot? Not a good PR move, though – it basically tells the customer they’re being ripped off bigtime at actual Mobil & Exxon stations. Could be interesting. I don’t know all that much about the gas business, myself, but this might be fun to watch.
Which brings me to my next question: at what price point do gas prices have to get before you really start to freak out and it becomes a real problem? We bitch about gas prices now, but it still doesn’t seem to have stopped us (myself included) from doing anything we want to do. At what price point do you think we have a true problem on our hands? I’ll be curious to see your opinions.