Last Modified: Monday, July 02, 2012 1:30 PM
By Johnathan Manning / American Press
J.R. Butler always has his eye on a couple of gas stations in search of the lowest pump price.
On Monday, his search landed him at Calcasieu Express Exxon on the corner of Broad Street and Gerstner Memorial Drive.
“I decided to come this way, hedge my bets and see how low it is,” Butler said.
His reward: Gas below $3 per gallon.
Several stations around the area were selling gas at $2.99 Monday.
Butler wasn’t the only one seeking low prices Monday.
“We just drove all the way from the other side of town to get here,” said another Calcasieu Express customer, Ashley Cormier.
Joseph Jones’ travels hadn’t taken
him quite as far, but he had passed up a station where gas was $3.03 to
get a price below $3.
All said the price of gas affected how much they drove.
“I basically only go out at night and to do short stops,” Jones said.
“We haven’t traveled at all since (gas prices) went up, other than what is necessary,” Butler said.
Cormier said that “when gas was high, I didn’t drive around so much, but now that it’s going down, I really do get out more.”
Don Redman, AAA spokesman, said Louisiana gas prices are the lowest since January.
Gas prices in Louisiana on Monday
averaged $3.17, down from $3.38 at the beginning of June, Redman said.
In April, prices reached their highest this year, averaging $3.82 across
the state, he said.
Locally, gas prices are certainly down from the record high of $4.01 in July 2008.
Redman said the state of economies across the world — in Europe, Asia and the United States — is bringing fuel prices down.
“Everything that’s driving down
those prices is the global economy,” Redman said. “Anytime an economy
slows down, so does the demand for energy products, and the opposite is
true as well.”
Skyler Broussard, manager of
Calcasieu Express, said the store sets prices based both on market costs
and on what other stations are doing.
Low gas prices are part of the
reason AAA is projecting a 4.9 percent increase in travel over 50 miles
around the July Fourth holiday.
AAA is predicting 42.3 million
Americans will hit the road for July Fourth — the highest number in the
past decade. AAA said the fact that Independence Day falls on a
Wednesday also factors in.
Redman said that traditionally gas prices don’t affect whether people take vacations as much as the state of the economy.
“However, in a case like we’ve seen the past couple
years, where we’ve seen historic
highs very early in the year, and sustained highs, what it has done to
the family budget is constant erosion,” he said.
Redman said the effect is that people forgo travel plans.
“There’s no doubt that cheaper fuel is going to act as an economic stimulus,” he said.
"Americans almost see summer
vacations as a birthright,” said Megan Monsour Hartman, marketing
manager with the Southwest Louisiana
Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“So people find a way to travel, but hopefully it will encourage more to
travel this summer or to extend their stay.”
Because of that, she said, the area
hasn’t really seen a decrease in travel, but with more sports
tournaments and conventions in the area this year, there’s always hope
“With the lower gas prices, summer road trips are easier for families to consider,” she said.
Tourist destination New Orleans hasn’t really seen a decrease in visitors, either, even as gas prices rose, officials said.
“Even when gas prices are higher,
about 44 percent of our visitors are coming in from the drive-in market,
so even if gas prices do get high, we haven’t really reached a point
where people stop traveling,” said Kelly Schulz, vice president of
communications and public relations with the New Orleans Convention and