Falling Gas Prices Defy Seasonal Norm

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-A steady fall in gas prices is defying normal springtime patterns, but many area motorists aren't banking on the temporary plunge lasting for long.

Gas prices in north Alabama have dropped by more than a quarter in the last several weeks, even though it's the time of year when they normally rise. The unusual trend is easing pressure on millions of wallets, at least for now.

"If it goes down, every little cent helps," said one motorist who talked with WHNT News 19 while filling up at the Texaco in Madison. "I realize that the glory days of two dollars a gallon will probably never come again."

Economists say increased domestic oil production is one part of the price drop, but even more importantly is a decrease in demand from drivers. Combining errands on fewer trips and buying more fuel-efficient cars from brands like Honda and Hyundai are just two examples of how drivers have cut back on trips to their local gas station. Price trackers say those types of individual decisions have finally added up to make a notable change for everyone, with April demand now at its lowest level since 1997.

"There's no sense in continuing to pay all this money for this gas when you can try to find ways to save," said Huntsville motorist Elizabeth Boddie. "I downsized on my car about two months ago because I had a big SUV, and the price of filling it up came close to a hundred bucks. Now I can go to about sixty dollars, and save forty every month."

Analysts believe the price drop could last all the way through Memorial Day before fuel producers switch over to costlier summer blends.

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in metro Huntsville is currently $3.33. That's nineteen cents cheaper than one month ago, and forty-seven cents lower from the same time last year.