Gas prices are declining, but can you feel it?

With oil prices down and summer driving season winding down, gasoline prices are dropping.

Nationally, the average for unleaded gasoline stands at $3.49 this morning, down from $3.60 a month ago, according to AAA Fuel gauge.  However, it’s still higher than the $2.70 price a year ago.

In Houston, the prices have settled to $3.26, and a few Houston-area gas stations are under the $3 mark this week. Those prices are down from the $3.42 price a month ago and the $3.89 high from this past May.

But again, it’s still much higher than $2.52 that drivers paid a year ago.

Doug Hager, 27, said he hasn’t noticed gas price dropping over the past four months.

The Houston electrician said he and his family are still feeling the pinch of $3-plus prices and reducing their driving when they can to save.

“We used to go to Kemah a lot on the weekends, but we don’t really do that much any more,” Hager said this morning as he filled up at a Shell station on Interstate 10 at Voss, where regular unleaded sold for $3.29 a gallon.

Sarah Schimmer, spokeswoman for AAA Texas, said it’s not unusual to see prices fall at the end of the summer driving season.

But, she added, “We might be seeing a greater decrease than we would because of the economic uncertainty.”

Economic troubles in Europe and fears of a double-dip recession at home are looming over oil markets and consumers, squelching demand and dropping prices.

“There are expectations that the economy is not going to be as strong or robust as anticipated,” said Fred Rozell, retail director for the Oil Price Information Service. “An economy that is using less petroleum products, that drives the price down.”

Market watchers said gas prices are likely to continue shadowing oil’s downward trend, but Thanksgiving and Christmas could bring small upticks at the pump. Though cheaper gas helps drivers wallets, it’s unlikely to provide a big boost for the economy , Rozell said.

“I’m not sure it’s going to help enough,” he said.

The price of gas “dropped about 50 cents since it peaked this year, but you are still paying 80 cents more than you did a year ago, so its still a pretty big jump.”

So what — if anything — are you doing differently?

Are you paying less for gasoline? If so, what are doing with the “savings?” Spending it on bills or other items? Banking it? Are you driving more?

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