By Sarah Meyer and Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
With gas prices more than a dollar less than they were around the holidays last year, families have one worry to scratch off their list this year.
The current average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.012 for New Mexico, according to AAA New Mexico, down from $3.088 last year.
The price was $1.89 per gallon in Clovis and $1.79 per gallon in Portales on Tuesday. Most people aren’t changing their holiday travel plans, but they’re pleased that gas is about half as much as it was this summer.
Mike Stratton, owner of C&S Fuel, said he thinks more people will be inclined to travel since they don’t have to pay so much for gas. Lower prices are “a great thing for everybody,” he said.
Stratton said he thinks people are buying more gas, and he expects prices to stay around the current level for a while.
Clovis resident John Muir doesn’t think the price of gas affects holiday plans much.
“We’re Americans,” he said. “We don’t skimp on the holidays.”
However, he said maybe if gas was still near $4 a gallon it might be different.
“If the gas prices were still that high, I would think some more people might stay put,” he said. “But even then, it’s the holidays. People want to see their families.”
Other area residents are just glad gas doesn’t cost as much.
“The cost of gas has not changed our plans, but the recent decrease will certainly make our travel plans less of a burden on our budget,” said Heather Christensen, youth services librarian at the Portales Public Library.
The cost of gas isn’t changing the traditional Thanksgiving trip to Lubbock Jenny Essary of Floyd and her family make, either. Still, after paying nearly $5 a gallon all summer, she said they are grateful for prices close to $2 a gallon now.
Short distances to destinations also lessen the affect of gas prices on travel plans.
Gerri and her mother Belva Bowers of Farwell are going to spend Thanksgiving with about 50 family members in Texico. But traveling isn’t an issue for them.
“We all live around here,” Belva said. “All we have to do is go across the tracks.”
Still, longer distances don’t necessarily stop people, regardless of the cost of gas.
“My family is in Fort Sumner,” Nell Alfieri of Clovis said. “The gas prices don’t matter either way, but it’s nice to have a little help.”
AAA New Mexico predicts a 1.4 percent decline in the number of travelers this holiday compared with last year because of the economy, according to a news release.
Approximately 41 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving, according to AAA. Eighty-one percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by automobile, 11 percent by airplane, and 8 percent by train.