Gas prices slip toward $3 a gallon

Gas prices slip toward $3 a gallon

November 8th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

Gas prices are affecting budgets.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

POLL: Do you think gas prices will ever return to the $2 range?

Where your gas money goes

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

GAS PRICE BREAKDOWN

Average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in Chattanooga:

Monday $3.21

Sunday: $3.22

Last week: $3.26

Last month: $3.21

Last year: $2.67

Source: AAA Fuel Gauge Report

Demand for gas is as low as it was when half of Chattanoogans were snowed into their homes earlier this year, driving down fuel prices in some areas to just above $3.

The average gallon of gas sold for $3.21 Monday, but at least 11 stations on the north side of town offered prices under $3.10, according to GasBuddy.com.

While she gassed up her Ford F-250 for $3.06 a gallon at the Highway 153 Conoco on Monday, Pat Adams said she is happy to see prices dropping.

Then she looked at her total.

"I am, but it's still $65," she sighed.

Among herself, her husband and two teenage sons, the Adamses regularly fill up four cars for about $600 a month. The family lives in Soddy-Daisy, so whether it's her husband's commute to work at Erlanger North or her son's drive to Chattanooga State Community College, they drive pretty far.

"For any of us to get anywhere, it's 20 miles," she said. "And they seem to want to go a lot."

Her family may be regularly on the road, but consistently high gas prices are lowering demand across the country. Over the last week in October, gasoline demand was 9 percent lower than the same week a year before and about 3 percent below any month-long average through the whole year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Demand hit about 8.5 million barrels per day that week, the lowest since January 2004.

But Thanksgiving is coming up, and gas demand could rise as families pile in the car and head to grandma's.

"Historically, a lot of times the gas prices tend to go up because people are traveling," said Angie LaPlant, spokeswoman for AAA. "Particularly with Thanksgiving, people want to spend the time together."

For now, debt uncertainty in European countries and the fluctuating strength of the U.S. dollar are contributing to declining gas prices, making oil futures less attractive to investors.

Until possibly Thanksgiving, motorists are enjoying prices slipping towards $3.

"I never thought it would be a blessing to see that," said Med Dement as he gassed up his Toyota Tacoma. "It would be nice to see them down in the $2 range."

That $2 and change gallon of gas may seem like a fantasy to today's motorists. It's tough to remember that just a year ago, area prices sat around $2.67.

But prices do seem low compared to the more recent past, and Mapco cashier Angie Crowe said drivers are pulling off the road and filling up more often than usual.

"I've had them left and right," she said. "For me, it's been a busy Monday."

Contact Carey O'Neil at coneil@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.