Gas prices have dipped below $3 in some places across the Tampa Bay area — a bit of an early holiday present, and a trend expected to extend through the new year.
"Unless something unforeseen occurs, we will be paying less for gasoline than we did during the holidays last year," AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said Monday.
Right now, Tampa's average is $3.10 per gallon. A few area stores were posting prices just below $3.
"That is not only the lowest so far this year in Tampa, but in conjunction with Orlando, the lowest metro average in the state of Florida," Brady said.
The state's average is $3.20 per gallon, Brady said. That's about on par with the national average, according to Gasbuddy.com.
The national low, found in Missouri, is $2.82.
But Brady said lower prices won't necessarily mean an increase in Thanksgiving travelers. Last year, about 39 million people traveled by car over the Thanksgiving holiday. That number was up from 2011, Brady said. She expects a high number of people to travel by car this season, too, but doesn't expect gas prices to prompt much of that travel.
In Florida, lowered prices won't create a significant amount of discretionary income, she reasoned, and likely won't change travel plans.
Brady said lackluster demand coupled with bursting inventories — about 2.5 percent higher than they were at this time last year — created a drop in prices. On a national scale, Brady said, the Tampa Bay area ranks around the middle.
Claire Wiseman can be reached at (727)-893-8804 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @clairelwiseman.