The average retail price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States plunged more steeply than ever over the last two weeks as the economic slowdown weighed on crude oil and drove consumers off of the roads, according to the latest nationwide Lundberg survey.
Prices will likely slide more, but at a slower pace, following the "extraordinary" decline this month, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said on Sunday.
The national average price for a gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded gas was $2.7785 on October 24, a decline of about 53 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, according to the survey of some 7,000 gas stations.
Gasoline is now about a penny cheaper than it was a year ago, and about $1.33 less than it was at a record peak in July.
"The drop is unprecedented," Lundberg said in an interview. "It was dictated by the crash in crude oil prices and deepened powerfully by falling U.S. gasoline demand."
Oil settled down nearly $4 a barrel on Friday on broader worries about a global economic recession, despite an agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output.
At one point on Friday, U.S. light crude for December delivery dropped to $62.65, its lowest since May 2007 — just before the current credit crunch gripped U.S. markets and threatened to push the country into a recession.
"The even weaker economy now suggests that despite a price crash on the street ... it is still probably not enough to inspire any strong comeback in demand any time soon," Lundberg said.
"It looks as though gasoline prices will continue down but at a moderated pace, unless crude oil prices leap up substantially and stay there."
The U.S. Midwest had the lowest prices, while the West Coast had the highest average prices, the survey found.
At $2.26 a gallon, Wichita, Kansas, had the lowest average price for self-serve, regular unleaded gas, while the highest price outside of Alaska and Hawaii was $3.37 a gallon in San Francisco.
Lundberg said diesel fuel fell 36 cents to $3.59 a gallon in the last two weeks.