Which Cities Filled Up the Most?

A look at how stay-at-home orders affected gas buying across the country
gas buddy driving activity
Photograph courtesy of GasBuddy

BOSTON — GasBuddy recently shared how the top 50 most populous U.S. cities ranked in fueling activities during a pandemic at the height of stay-at-home orders.

On average, a person in Dallas visited the pump nearly twice as often as one living in Las Vegas between March 1 to May 31, 2020, according to the new report. In the same time span, a person in Birmingham, Ala. bought 31% more gasoline than someone in Los Angeles.

Demand for fuel has been at record lows across the nation since the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Pay with GasBuddy data between March 1 to May 31, American consumers made on average 2.8 fuel transactions per month, a drop from the usual 4.5 times per month prior to the outbreak.

Cities that saw more frequent visits to the gas pump were clustered in the Great Lakes region, five out of the top 10, and Texas, three out of the top 10. While cities with the fewest fuel transactions were centered in California and the East Coast.

Various factors play a role as to why there were more fueling activities in certain cities than others.

  • Volatile gas prices: The Great Lakes region saw some of the lowest gas prices in more than a decade. Each day brought a new “record-low” price enticing residents to make frequent visits to their local station to take advantage. This is further evident when looking at Chicago. Chicago saw the most transactions after Dallas, however, it didn’t make it to the top 10 as a city that purchased the most volume of gasoline. This signals that people were making frequent trips to the pump but purchasing small amounts.
  • Local economy: A city like Las Vegas has been ground zero for the American job crisis. With much of its economy dependent on the leisure and hospitality industry, it leaves very little activity in the city when there is no tourism. The same can be said about Detroit, also on the list of fewest fuel transactions, with the closing of its casinos in March.  
  • Varying stay-at-home orders: Texas had one of the shortest stay-at-home orders, while California had one the longest and strictest, which are reflected strongly in GasBuddy’s fuel transaction data. This played a role in whether people had places to go from commuting to work or visiting friends.

Founded in 2000, Boston-based GasBuddy allows users to locate gas stations based on fuel prices, location, ratings and reviews.

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