When the station's owned by the oil company, it can wait to raise the price. When the station is not company owned (most are no longer owned by the oil companies), they pay for the gas when it's delivered --- you have $35,000 sitting around? Say you just got your tanks filled Monday at 3.25/gallon. Add a bit of markup and you're charging 3.69/gal. The difference should pay for the station, labor, lights, insurance, maybe a bit of profit. Next Monday if all goes right you'll need another 10,000 gallons and if the price stays the same, you've got the cash to pay for it. On the other hand, if it's Wed and you've pumped maybe 5,000 gallons and something happens that makes it look like the price you're going to get charged on Monday for the refueling is going to go up, what do you do? You could wait until Monday, find out that it did indeed go up 15 cents and find yourself $1,500 short and they won't give you all 10,000 gallons as a result--it's delivered COD (or at least requires a bank wire). Or you look at the news, guess that they'll raise the price 15 cents and figure out how you're going to get that extra $1,500 you're going to need on Monday. What you do is divide $1,500 by the gas you've got left in the tanks (5,000 gal) and figure out you'll need to raise your prices 30 cents. If it does go up 15 cents, you've got the extra cash and can drop your price a bit since you now have 10,000 gallons to spread the new cost over. If you're wrong and it goes up 20 cents, you're raiding the piggybank. If goes up less, you've got some to return to the piggybank to make up for last week when you guessed wrong. That's why it can go up 15 cents in 24 hours and not be gouging. Gasoline inventories are at an 8 year low right now, very real possibility the refineries will be out of action for at least a week (they're shutting them down to protect them from damage due to the hurricane and can't restart by flipping a wall switch), not a lot of truckers willing to drive through a hurricane to deliver gas, etc. etc. Still think it's unreasonable?