WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumers have some more money to spend on in-store merchandise at convenience stores now that the national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline dipped below $3 on Saturday. The national average was last below $3 per gallon on Dec. 22, 2010.
The 46-month period during which prices averaged more than $3 per gallon represented the longest such streak in history, according to AAA. During those 1,409 consecutive days, gas prices averaged $3.52 per gallon and reached as high as $3.98 per gallon.
The organization also revealed that Americans are now saving $250 million per day on gasoline compared to the $3.68-per-gallon average price that was present in the early summer.
“Consumers are experiencing ‘sticker delight’ as gas prices unexpectedly dropped below $3 in much of the country,” said Bob Darbelnet, CEO of AAA. “Lower gas prices are a boon to the economy just in time for holiday travel and shopping.”
More than 60 percent of all U.S. gas stations are currently selling gas for less than $3 per gallon, and consumers can find at least one gas station selling a gallon of regular fuel for less than $3 in nearly every state, reported AAA.
Gas prices often decline in the fall due to decreased driving and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline, but the price decline in most years has been less pronounced than what has been seen this year. And consumers could potentially see more good news at the pump.
According to AAA, prices could drop another 5 cents to 15 cents per gallon in the near term as gas stations catch up with steep declines in the wholesale market. The trade group predicts lower gas prices could potentially lead to more travel during the holiday season, where consumers will spend more money on dining, shopping and lodging during their trips.
Although consumers are certainly celebrating the lower gas prices, Darbelnet stressed that low gas prices will not be here forever.
“Paying less than $3 for gas is a welcome holiday gift that may not last nearly as long as many would hope,” he continued. “It is possible that lower gas prices will soon be a faded memory, so enjoy it while you can. The days of paying more than $3 per gallon for gas have regrettably not gone away.”
Gasoline prices are not the only thing falling lately. The price of diesel at the pump also has declined. The U.S. average diesel price was $3.64 last week, which is 24 cents cheaper vs. the same period in 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration.