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We at Convenience Store News are pleased to introduce Petro Facts, a new information page designed to help convenience operators and petroleum marketers track city, state, regional and national pricing changes in wholesale and retail gasoline markets.

The information on this page is a product of a new partnership between Convenience Store News and DTN Energy, publisher of Marketwire and a recognized source for petroleum market intelligence.

It's no secret that gasoline margins are of great concern to convenience store operators and petroleum marketers. Indeed, the picture over the past year has been rather topsy-turvy as margins teeter between double digits and single digits per gallon.

Several observations can be made about retail gasoline, however. The first is that current prices are still well below a year ago, but have been climbing, with some experts forecasting prices close to last summer's record levels in certain markets.

Another pattern that may spell some relief for retailers is that profit margins are improving. A year ago retailers were scratching a few cents on a gallon of gasoline, whereas this year, profit margins are approaching 10 cents per gallon in most cities. In San Francisco, where retail gasoline prices are the highest in the country, average profit margins exceed 20 cents a gallon.

The corresponding charts track Regular Unleaded gasoline in selected cities. The retail margin is derived from the average retail price, as published by the Energy Information Administration, less the wholesale average rack prices (the price paid by the retailer/jobber from the supplier/refiner), plus taxes from the city to the federal level, and a $0.0075-a-gallon transportation cost. The charts compare prices from: week ending April 8, 2002, week ending March 11, 2002, week ending April 9, 2001.