Gas Is Cheap, Not That You'd Notice

National average hovers around $2 a gallon, but for many motorists there's nowhere to go
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2020 3:13 AM CDT
In Some Areas, Gas Is Below $1 a Gallon
Brad Downey fills up his vehicle at the Stop&Shop gas station in Pittsfield, Mass. where regular unleaded gasoline was $1.89 gallon on Monday, March 30, 2020.   (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

US gasoline prices have dropped to their lowest levels in four years, and they are almost sure to go lower as oil prices plunge. Price-tracking services put the national average Monday around $2 a gallon. Some stations were spotted charging under a dollar. But don't expect a stampede to the pumps. Demand is weak because so many Americans are under shelter-in-place rules and businesses have been shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak, the AP reports. "For most Americans who are home practicing social distancing and not driving to work or taking their children to school, you are only filling up maybe once a week, maybe every couple of weeks," says Jeanette Casselano, a spokeswoman for the AAA auto club. "You are not reaping the benefits."

The cheapest prices are in a swath of the country from Texas to Wisconsin and Michigan, with most states in that band averaging under $1.77 a gallon. At the other end were California, at $3.06, and Hawaii, $3.36 on average. Prices have plenty of room to keep falling—maybe below $1.50, according to analysts. Patrick DeHaan, an analyst for price tracker GasBuddy, says that eventually retail prices will reflect the even faster decline in wholesale prices. "Retailers are taking their time lowering prices because they have a lot of uncertainty around the corner," DeHaan says, adding that the practice boosts service station profit margins. Investors expect weak demand to continue pushing gasoline prices lower. Contracts in New York for gasoline futures plunged to well under $1 a gallon on Monday.

(More gas prices stories.)

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