Just in time for the holiday travel season, gas prices are on the way down, dipping below $3 a gallon in at least one case.
Excel Fuel Inc. at 6201 54th Ave. N in St. Petersburg is selling a gallon of regular gas for $2.99.
"We got busy yesterday and have been busy since,'' said Sal Khraisat, manager. "The customers are very happy about the price. They say it is like a nice Christmas present.''
The average price per gallon in the Tampa Bay area is $3.21, compared to $3.22 last year and $3.25 a month ago.
Only last summer concern was mounting about prices topping $4 and possibly hitting $5 a gallon in some areas of the country.
But prices have been dipping for several weeks.
It's a simple matter of supply and demand, said Jessica Brady of AAA.
The supply of gas in the U.S. is ample, with refineries operating at near 90 percent capacity, she said.
On the other hand, demand is down, both domestically and internationally is down, a reflection of economic challenges.
The combination is good news for holiday travelers.
"Motorists are willing to take any break they can get,'' said Brady. "This is much better than paying $3.50 a gallon or more.
AAA predicts the Christmas travel season could be the busiest in six years, with 93-million Americans hitting the road.
Highways are likely to be more crowded than in recent years because getting a seat on a plane is more difficult and expensive, AAA says.
AAA predicts gas prices could continue to drop through the end of the year.
"It depends, of course,'' Brady said, "but we could see more stations with prices dipping under $3.