Gas prices fuel cost cuts - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Gas prices fuel cost cuts

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - You may have some extra cash for your holiday shopping this year. Gas prices have dropped drastically, some states now paying less than $2.00 per gallon.

Both Gas Buddy Analysts and AAA believe South Carolina will join the “Under $2.00 club,” for gas by the new year. 

If and when prices fall this low, AAA analysts says they can't guarantee how long they will stay that low. Analysts do, however, say we will enjoy low gas into the new year. 

We've already hit a five-year low in gas prices, nationwide. The past week alone, the average cost of gas in South Carolina has dropped a dime, and Gas Buddy Analysts say they're down 32-cents in the past month. In fact, South Carolinians are paying 74-cents less than we were during the holidays, last year. 

Several factors are pushing down prices. We are seeing an extraordinary domestic oil production, and international crude oil prices are heading toward record lows. 

In South Carolina, it also helps that we have some of the lowest gas taxes in the U.S. 

With an average of $2.35, according to AAA, it's hard not to consider this a happy holiday.

“It's great,” said local traveler Len Anthony. “It's gonna stimulate the economy, puts more money in peoples pockets so they can spend it on other items, and particularly at Christmas time, its a great benefit.”

Gas Buddy Analysts say the “late weekend,” is when past research shows South Carolinians save their cents at the pump.

With a drop in oil prices, you have to think about all the benefits that come with it, for everyone.

One area of growth, thanks to gas prices, are car sales. November sales accelerated into full speed for many car companies, especially in selling trucks and SUVs.

As oil prices plummet, we might see the price to fly drop with them. 

Air carriers are forecasting record profits for 2015, according to the International Air Travel Association. Two reasons are for cheaper fuel and rising demand. The same organization expects the average ticket price to be cut by 5 percent next year.

So, why aren't airline prices following fuel prices right now?  

Truth is, airlines are in no hurry to reduce profits since their planes are full and demand for seats has been high. Many carriers are using the extra cash to upgrade their systems and buy new planes.  

Ben Brockwell with the Oil Price Information Service said it takes time for airlines to change their structure to reflect low fuel prices. Since those prices are expected to remain low well into the new year, he expects airfares to follow suit.

Brockwell predicts in the new year, we could see some changes in costs, like lower baggage fees, or surcharges. Delta Airlines has already made changes to their price structure.  He said typically what happens is one major airline will initiate a fare cut, then look for support from competitors. If other airlines drop their cost, the low prices will stick. 

WMBF News reached out to all the airlines that service Myrtle Beach, and got several different responses.

United and American, referred WMBF News to Airlines for America, who said they do not forecast fares.

Director of Spirit Airlines Public Relations, Paul Berry, on the other hand, said, “Lower fuel prices will certainly reduce our costs, and therefore allow us to lower fares even more.”

“The driving factor behind Allegiant's low fares is the demand we see for specific flights.” said Brandon Myers with Allegiant Air, in a statement. “Allegiant's fares fluctuate on a daily basis due to customer demand, and less so due to fluctuation in fuel prices.”

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