MANATEE -- Gas prices are definitely helping the holiday spirit -- average retail gasoline prices in the Bradenton-Sarasota area have fallen 1.5 cents per gallon in the past week, to $2 a gallon Monday.
And prices across the nation are about to see a new six-plus year low.
"The U.S. average needs to fall just seven-tenths of a penny from its current $2.032 per gallon to be the lowest since March 25, 2009," said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst.
Prices Sunday in the Bradenton-Sarasota area were 68.9 cents a gallon lower than the same day one year ago, and are 7.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 18.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 63.2 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.
"Motorists are now saving an average of $18 for a full tank compared to two years ago when gas prices were above $3," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "These savings couldn't come at a better time, as Americans look to allocate money for holiday shopping and travel."
Last week, crude oil reached some of the lowest prices in four months. Daily settlements of West Texas Intermediate fell below $40 a barrel, which hasn't happened since August. The weekly average for a barrel of oil was $40.90 - the lowest weekly average in two weeks.
A global oversupply of oil has kept a stranglehold on crude prices. Crude oil inventories remain near levels not seen for this time of year in at least the last 80 years. The price of crude has remained below $50 since July, helping to keep gasoline production costs low.
Motorists can find gasoline below $2 a gallon at 46 percent of gas stations in Florida, 83 percent of gas stations in Georgia, and 93 percent of gas stations in Tennessee, according to AAA.