Chattanooga gas prices plunge to lowest March levels in modern history due to COVID-19 travel cutbacks

Analysts expect further decline in fuel prices

Photo contributed by Dave Flessner

Chattanooga gas prices fell another 11.3 cents a gallon in the past week, dropping to the lowest inflation-adjusted price for fuel for the start of spring in modern history.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Chattanooga dropped Sunday to $1.78 per gallon, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 stations. Chattanooga gas prices now average 33.1 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and remain 30 cents a gallon below the U.S. average of $2.08 per gallon,

The cheapest gas in Hamilton County today is at Sam's Club station on Lee Highway, where regular gas is selling for only $1.48 per gallon.

"This is as low as I can ever remember and it is a welcome sight," said Justin Smith, a 30-year-old Chattanoogan motorists who filled up his Ford 150 truck at Sam's today. "People staying at home is really driving down the cost of gas."

The $1.78 average price is close to the depths reached in average gas prices in Chattanooga in late 2018 and analysts expect prices could go even lower.

"Gas prices have spent virtually all of March marching lower, with the drop continuing as the coronavirus destroys oil demand globally, leading to the lowest oil prices we've seen in 18 years, paving the way for still an additional 35-75 cent per gallon drop at most stations in the weeks ahead," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "I don't think I've ever seen such a collapse in prices, even including the Great Recession. What we're witnessing is easily going to go down as the great collapse in oil demand, and for motorists hurrying to fill up today, they're wasting their money as prices will continue to drop in the days ahead."

At gas stations are passing along the drop several weeks behind, and there's plenty more room for prices to drop, putting 99 cents per gallon prices as a strong possibility for perhaps many more stations than we previously anticipated. This is truly an unprecedented turn of events."

At a BP station in London, Kentucky, the price of regular gas fell today to only 99 cents per gallon - the lowest price in the country.

Despite the Federal Reserve launching a number of programs to shore up markets and President Trump buying oil supplies for the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, oil prices still fell in trading Monday morning with West Texas Intermediate down 1.2% at $22.40 a barrel and Brent crude down 3.7% at $26.