TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.
Today, AAA - The Auto Club Group reported average gas prices had dropped to $2.09 in Tampa Bay area, down 11 cents from last week. Some lucky drivers here are paying less than $2 a gallon at the pump. On Sunday, the average unleaded price statewide was $2.21, the lowest since December 2016.
"It's amazing we're staring at some of the cheapest prices of the year as the holiday comes into view," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, a website that helps consumers find, purchase and save money on gas.
Cheaper gas prices will encourage more Americans to take "extended, or more frequent road trips this summer," Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA, said in a press release. "And when travelers spend less at the pump, they are left with cash to spend on lodging, shopping and dining out."
Tampa Bay drivers are paying less for gas than any other Florida metro, with Orlando second at $2.13 and the Bradenton-Sarasota metro area at $2.17. The highest ticked in from West Palm Beach at $2.31, Miami at $2.28 and Fort Lauderdale at $2.27.
Some drivers assume with more people traveling for the holiday, gas stations will mark up their prices, said Jenkins. However, historically, the prices can rise or fall as the holiday approach.
"There is no definite trend," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the price of crude oil is often the key indicator. Currently, those crude prices are around a 10-month low.
"There is a glut in global oil supplies," he said. "Domestic crude production has ramped up, countering efforts from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to reduce global supply levels and raise prices."
When gas stations can purchase the gas at a lower price mark, then it can pass the savings to the consumers.
Gas prices have fallen for 23 consecutive days this month for a total decline of 28 cents.
"I would expect to continue to see a downward trend of one- or two-cents a day, on the metro average," Jenkins said, predicting "lower prices pushing into Labor Day."
Between June 1 to June 25, the state average was $2.31, two cents cheaper than the national average.
AAA collects data from credit card swipes and direct feeds from 120,000 gas stations nationwide, in partnership with OPIS (Oil Price Information Service) and Wright Express.
Contact Tierra Smith at tsmith@ tampabay.com or (414) 702-5006. Follow @bytierrasmith.