The Ups and Downs of Gas Prices
With recent drops in gasoline prices, that trip to Florida could be cheaper than expected.
Traditionally, gasoline prices rise during summer months as gasoline usage increases and lower in late winter and early spring as it decreases. This year, as in 2010, the trend is reversing.
"The price of gas is obviously tied into the price of crude oil," Jesse Waller of Waller Petroleum said. "There are lots of reasons why crude has fallen, but I'd say the main reason is a weak economy leads to weak demand. I think supply has been fairly consistent for this time of year, so the whole supply and demand thing is working in the right direction for the consumer."
Prices dropped almost 30 cents per gallon during the summer months of 2010, according to the website gasbuddy.com. More than a 60-cent per gallon drop was seen between June and December of 2011.
Currently, prices have dropped more than 70 cents per gallon since their last high in April.
"The European financial crisis, the state of the economy here in the United States, they all are kind of working together," Waller said. "I don't see any reason for that trend not to continue. I don't expect it's going to drop a whole lot more; it's kind of hard to say. You never know what's going to happen."
If travel increases over the summer then demand will increase and prices may rise a bit, but Waller doesn't anticipate a price increase.
"I think that crude is probably around a level $80 (per barrel)," he said. "I think it's going to stay in that area.
"I think prices should be relatively consistent throughout the summer," Waller continued. "Barring any major disruptions in the Middle East or hurricanes or anything along those lines."
On the consumer side, Mark Jenkins of Waxhaw, North Carolina is traveling with his family in a small motor home, hauling their car behind.
They stopped at a Minden gas station to fuel up.
"We're headed to my wife's parents; they are in Arlington, Texas," he said. "It's half-business, half-vacation. We're missionaries; we're going out there to see friends and supporters."
The reduced gas prices were unexpected because of a long-standing tradition, according to Jenkins.
"My wife and I were joking the last couple of weeks that the prices had to start going up soon," he said. "Because whenever we plan a trip like this, the price of gas usually goes up about a dollar a gallon."
Jenkins said the reduced prices were "a pleasant surprise" and would definitely encourage his family to travel more.
"We're planning on extending the trip a bit," he said "We're going to go through Oklahoma on the way back."