Gas prices have fallen slightly below $3 a gallon at several Waco locations, a good sign for local motorists but underwhelming when compared with other Texas cities enjoying drops into the $2.70 to $2.80 range.
Whether falling prices are here to stay or a Labor Day weekend phenomenon remains debatable. Travelers say they will enjoy them while they last.
“I was on my way to eat lunch, saw these prices and just now pulled in,” said Jessica Reid, 20, a Lacy Lakeview resident who usually tops off her Nissan Altima in Robinson. She split the difference Friday, whipping into the H-E-B on South Valley Mills Drive, where regular unleaded sold for $2.99 a gallon.
Many others had the same idea, with lines forming at nearly all pumps.
An H-E-B attendant replacing receipt paper said H-E-B corporate determines when and where to change prices. He said he could not predict how long they would remain $2.99, or say if H-E-B stores statewide had dipped below $3. Visits to H-E-B locations in Bellmead and on Wooded Acres Drive between noon and 1 p.m. Friday revealed they also were charging $2.99 per gallon.
The H-E-B on North Interstate 35 in Bellmead and the Sam’s Club on East Waco Drive appeared to wage a neighborhood skirmish over fuel prices, Sam’s offering club members a $2.97-per-gallon rate.
Patrick De Haan, who tracks trends and prices for GasBuddy, said from his Chicago headquarters he believes sub-$3 prices in Texas will last beyond the Labor Day holiday, weather and hurricane season permitting.
“Cross your fingers that Mother Nature does you right,” De Haan said.
He said the $2.97 and $2.99 prices in Waco certainly are impressively low, but said lower numbers are popping up elsewhere in Texas and in South Carolina, naming two states whose prices caught his attention.
A GasBuddy listing of lowest prices in Texas late Friday afternoon showed a Circle-K in Houston charging $2.52 per gallon for regular unleaded. Several brands were charging between $2.70 and $2.80 in the Houston area. A Valero convenience store in Temple was asking $2.78 per gallon.
De Haan said “uncertainty and concern” over the general economy has softened demand for gasoline in recent weeks. Absent a hurricane threatening refineries in the Gulf Coast and bearing down on Texas and Louisiana, prices could continue sliding into fall and winter, De Haan said.
AAA Texas reported Thursday the Texas statewide gas price average fell for the 11th week in a row as competing headlines impact crude oil prices.
“Putting downward pressure on the cost of oil and gas are continued concerns for an economic slowdown in the face of inflation and rising interest rates,” a AAA Texas press release says. “On the other hand, energy prices remain elevated with the war in Ukraine still ongoing.”
The press release says prices at the pump may fluctuate with demand over the Labor Day holiday, citing a survey showing 32% of Americans will take trips to enjoy summer’s last long weekend.
As of Friday, the Waco average for regular unleaded stood at $3.28 a gallon, a 6-cent drop from the previous Friday. The price was $2.73 a gallon one year ago.
Janet Klein, of Mart, made her regular trip to Waco Friday to run errands, including buying groceries. She burns diesel in her Volkswagen Jetta, but still could not resist what H-E-B was offering. She said she has been paying nearly $5.40 a gallon, but found it for a dollar less at H-E-B.
Brad Boutto on Friday reached Waco on his drive from Minnesota to visit his daughter in Donna, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. He said he paid $3.54 a gallon in Minnesota, so $2.99 at H-E-B in Waco looked good.
“The cheapest I had seen was $3.06 in a couple places,” Boutto said.
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