Gas prices hitting bottom, experts say

Business executive Floyd Lawson Jr. fills up twice a week to make the 32-mile trip to his Norcross office in Gwinnett County from his home in Cobb County.

A month ago, a visit to the pump every four days would cost him about $70, the Mableton resident said Monday. The last time he filled up it cost him $38 at the Costco at Cumberland Mall.

“If nothing else, it’s an extra meal or a Hawks game,” Lawson said.

Enjoy the savings while you can.

The average price metro Atlantans paid for regular unleaded on Monday, $1.998, was 27 cents lower than a month ago. But prices are on the way up, according to experts who track fuel costs.

In some areas the price for regular unleaded was as low as $1.81, according to a survey of 2,134 metro stations.

Allison Mac, an analyst for GasBuddy, said prices are stabilizing and will start rising this month and in March.

Refineries will be switching to a more expensive summer gas blend that helps reduce fuel evaporation and air pollution during warmer months.

“There’s no need for panic,” Mac said. “This is what happens every year at this time.”

Oil refinery production has also declined in recent weeks, putting upward pressure on prices.

Prices in metro Atlanta remained lower than the national average, which was $2.056 on Monday, up 2.7 cents from last week, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Consumers aren’t the only ones who have benefited from lower prices. Jim Tudor, president of the 2,500-member Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, said gas station owners have also welcomed the price cut, which may come as a surprise to many consumers.

Lower gas prices leave consumers with more to spend on merchandise inside stores, where profit margins can be higher than at the pump, Tudor said. Station owners also pay less money to credit card companies for processing transactions when prices are lower. The fees can be as much as 3 percent of the amount charged at the pump..

“When prices are lower, our cost for same transaction is considerably lower,” Tudor said.

Lawson, the business executive, said he and his family will probably return to consolidating trips once prices start to rise. He said he recently paid $1.86 for a gallon of gas at Costco.

“We probably have driven more freely in the last month or so as opposed to keeping our trips shortened,” Lawson said.

Regular unleaded could be found as low as $1.81 on Monday at Marathon and Mobil stations on Ga. 138 West near I-75 in Stockbridge, at a Sam’s Club on Jonesboro Road near Battlecreek Road in Morrow and at a Chevron at Marietta Highway and Univeter Road in Canton, accoridng to GasBuddy’s survey.

Unleaded regular was selling for $1.82 and $1.83 a gallon in parts of Woodstock, Canton, Covington, McDonough, and for $1.84 in parts of Alpharetta and Duluth. See’s daily price roundup at