Saving at the pump: Gas prices dip below $2

Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

Robert Johnson, left, and Shirley Given, right, put gas in their respective cars at the Walmart gas station where gas was $1.98 Wednesday. Yesterday, gas prices fell below $2 for the first time since 2009. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Robert Johnson, left, and Shirley Given, right, put gas in their respective cars at the Walmart gas station where gas was $1.98 Wednesday. Yesterday, gas prices fell below $2 for the first time since 2009. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Editor’s note: The original version of this story contained an error. The error has been corrected below. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — Gas prices dropped below $2 Wednesday for the first time in Natchez since 2009, leaving locals happier than usual at the pumps.

Mississippi’s average gas price Wednesday was $1.94 for regular unleaded gas, while the national average was $2.10, according to the American Automobile Association.

In Natchez, the price for unleaded gas was $1.99 at various stores around town.

The trend of lowering gas prices is one that began in May last year when gas slowly began falling from $3.40 in Mississippi.

AAA Mississippi spokesman Don Redman said lower gas prices led to a steady flow of travelers throughout the holidays and one he believes will continue throughout 2015.

“While the economy is far from being robust, it is moving and coupling that with lower gas prices is having some positive ramifications in terms of travel,” Redman said. “We already saw in 2014 numbers we hadn’t seen in five years or so, and that did help encourage people to drive and travel more.”

But Redman emphasized that low gas prices doesn’t always mean people will travel more, referencing the last time gas prices were below $2 in 2009.

“If you look back at when the statewide average was, that low that was in April 2009, but no one was driving in April 2009 because of the economy and being in the midst of the Great Recession,” Redman said. “So gas prices don’t always determine whether people will be out driving or not.”

Shirley Givens of Natchez said she only spent $21 to fill up her truck Wednesday and was thrilled with the low prices.

“I just think it’s fantastic,” Givens said. “I can afford to travel now.”

Robert Johnson said he is now able to fill up his tank twice a week with the lower gas prices to travel to his farm 20 miles from Natchez.

“I think it’s great,” Johnson said. “It helps out tremendously.”

Tom Graning, co-owner of the Go Mart on U.S. 61 South in Natchez, said he hopes the lower gas prices help boost what have been historically slower months for the area.

“January and February are usually always slower months, but we have seen some increased traffic because of all the stuff going on at the port and different things in Natchez,” Graning said. “We’ve seen a little bump in traffic when prices go down, but it’s not a big bump because I think a lot of people have been expecting this.”

Graning said he believes low gas prices in larger metropolitan cities, such as Jackson, have led local residents to eagerly anticipate the lower gas prices in Natchez.

“I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about it, because it’s almost like they have kind of been expecting it,” Graning said. “I think people are just glad it’s down, but I don’t think that people have really gone crazy over the prices or anything.”

But Graning said the prices on the pump Wednesday weren’t anything he expected to see six months ago.

“If you would have told me six months ago what the price was, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Graning said. “I hope it continues because I know it helps the customers save some money, and that money they save is money they’re going to spend other places in the community.

“Hopefully, that’s something that helps the whole town.”