Why do gas prices come with a 9/10 on the end?

Published: Mar. 12, 2012 at 9:56 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2012 at 12:05 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some people don't even notice the price of gas comes with an extra 9/10 of a penny tacked on the end? Why?

According to AAA Carolina's, the practice dates back to the 1930's when gas companies were competing for business and a penny was actually a lot of money. The price of gas averaged around 10 cents back then. The practice has never stopped.

The thought is, people are still more likely to only notice the first few numbers in a price. That's why retailers commonly sell a TV at $799.99 for example, instead of $800.

"It's a marketing tactic that suggests that consumers really don't pay attention past the first digit of a price particularly if it's between 1 and 10 dollars," said Yvette Russell, a Marketing Professor at Johnson C. Smith University.

While the practice might have worked back in the 30's, most people we talked to today all agreed on only one thing, 9/10 of a cent less or not, gas is still too high.