For the first time in four years, gasoline prices in Florida average less than $2 a gallon, according to the auto club AAA.
Regular unleaded gasoline averages $1.97 a gallon, down 78 cents from a year ago and down 40 cents in the past month. Demand for gasoline and other oil-based products has dropped in recent weeks, as the novel coronavirus keeps many people home.
AAA spokesman W. D. Williams said all aspects of the tourism and transportation industries have felt the effects of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. He said gasoline demand is down by as much as 50 percent.
“Obviously, people are driving a lot less,” Williams said. “They are not taking extended trips. They are not taking local trips. The airlines are flying fewer routes than they have been. So, all across the board, fuel is being used at a much lesser rate.”
Seventy-five percent of gas stations have prices below $2, and AAA forecasts show gas prices will continue to fall in the coming weeks and could sink below $1.60 a gallon.
“Usually at this time of year, we are seeing gasoline prices increasing, because people are getting out and traveling more. The refineries are switching over to their summer blends of gasoline, which are more expensive to produce,” Williams said. “But, because of the reduced demand right now, we are seeing gasoline prices plummet.”