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No gift here: Gas prices may increase in time for holidays
AAA: Car travel still cheaper than airfare
1209GAS
Ronnie Adams fills gas tanks for lawn care equipment Wednesday afternoon as he and fellow Williams Lawn Care employees stop by J&S Food Mart on Thompson Bridge Road. Gas prices are creeping higher with some predicting $3 per gallon by Christmas.

Those planning to travel during the holidays might want to set aside some extra cash for gas.

The average price nationally could reach $3 a gallon, or higher, before the end of the year, depending on how oil prices move over the next several days. And that has some residents concerned.

On Wednesday, AAA Auto Club South was reporting the average price of regular gas was $2.87 per gallon.

"It's horrible," said North Hall resident April Connolly, preparing to gas up her car at a station off Thompson Bridge Road. "These gas prices are hurting us."

She said she is planning to visit family throughout the Atlanta and North Georgia areas over the holidays, but if gas hits $3 a gallon, "I don't know what we're going to do."

Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, said the higher prices are related to the weak U.S. dollar.

"Crude oil is traded in U.S. currency, so whenever the value of the dollar goes down, we find an influx of foreign investors," she said. "They can get more for their money."

One of the reasons the dollar plummeted last week was reports that U.S. employers added fewer jobs "than even the worst forecast," Brady said.

Oil prices fell Wednesday, however, after the U.S. government said supplies of gasoline and other energy products rose last week as refineries increased production.

"The dollar has gained a little bit of momentum," Brady said. "If this continues and crude oil does close a few dollars short of where it did last Friday, it could mean minimal decreases in gas prices - maybe 1 to 3 cents (on the gallon).

"I know that's not much, but at least it'll keep it from going higher next week."

Several analysts believe oil prices will remain between $85 and $90 per barrel in the near future.

And that future includes Christmas and New Year's Day, when the roads will be filled with travelers.

"We don't expect, at least at this point, (the higher prices) to have too much of an impact on holiday travel," Brady said. "I'm sure it will affect some people, but ... it's still a lot more affordable for people to travel by car ... when compared to flying.

"A couple of tanks of gas doesn't equal one plane ticket."

David Williams, filling up at J&S Food Mart on Thompson Bridge Road, said the sour economy has forced him to nix plans to go to upstate New York during the holidays to visit friends. He will, however, visit his parents in Murphy, N.C.

"It's not just gas. Everything is going up (in price)," he said.

Williams said he spends $70 a day to fuel up his van and other gas-hungry tools he uses as part of his lawn care business.

"When gas prices go up, I don't get extra money (to make up the difference)," he said. "That comes out of my pocket."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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