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It’s costing a little less to fill that gas tank

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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The cost of a gallon of gas is tumbling quicker than it rose during May and June. AAA of Northern California credits tough economic times and climbing supplies of crude oil for lower gas prices across the state. In Auburn, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded has dropped 10 to 14 cents since early July. Auburn Gas & Food owner Ray Sidhu was ahead of the curve, lowering his price for regular unleaded to $2.79 a gallon a month ago at the High Street station. “The company I buy from dropped the price,” he said. Sidhu said his business philosophy is to keep his margin of profit consistent and adjust gas prices accordingly. “I never make a lot of money on gas, but I never lose money on gas either,” he said. Still, the price does impact the number of customers he sees. “When I drop the price, I have very good business,” he said. “You’re going to bring in more customers when your price is low.” At Maidu Market on Auburn Folsom Road, the price was $2.79 for a gallon of regular unleaded Wednesday. Store employee Shelby Nelson said gas prices went lower with the previous week’s shipment. “(We do price adjustments) when we get in a gas order,” Nelson said. “We get in shipments twice a week.” Nelson didn’t have an answer for the recent fluctuations, but agreed that the price definitely affects sales. “When prices go down, the pumps are busier and we need to get a load more often,” she said. The price has gone down 14 cents a gallon in the last couple of weeks at 76 Conoco Phillips on Highway 49 and Fulweiler, cashier Zach Wiedeman said. Wednesday’s price was $2.86 for regular unleaded. “When it went up, people noticed and would come in and say things like ‘I’ll bet you guys are happy,’ which isn’t true,” Wiedeman said. Customers comment less when prices are on the way down, he said. “If it gets down another 20 cents, people will start to say something,” he said. Customer Kazi Rodarte of Roseville, who was filling up her car at the 76, said she’s pleased prices are on the way down, but she’s impacted less than her husband because she drives a company car. “It’s great because everyone is on a tight budget,” she said. “My husband has a big truck, so it saves him about $100 a month.” In North Auburn and along Interstate 80, prices were even lower, with Flyers posting $2.75 per gallon of regular unleaded and Arco showing $2.71 and $2.73. Patrick Ellis of Foresthill said he didn’t realize that he was filling up at one of the least expensive places Wednesday. He stops at the Arco because the people who run the station are friendly. Nevertheless, lower prices do impact his driving habits, he said. “It definitely means more trips (down the hill) for me,” he said. At AAA, analysts are forecasting that prices will remain fairly stable for the near future. Even so, California’s gas prices are the third highest in the United States. Statewide, as of July 14, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $2.89, compared to $4.51 a year ago. Nationally, the average price of $2.52 is down 10 cents from last month and $1.59 from last year’s $4.11, according to AAA. Statewide Eureka had the highest gas prices at $3.14 a gallon, which was also the highest price in the lower 48 states. Wailuku, Hawaii posted the top at $4.57 a gallon. “California is among those states that have the most noticeable low demand for retail gasoline,” Matt Skryja, AAA Northern California spokesman, said in a press release. “This may be attributed in part to state budget problems, which aren’t helping to inspire confidence in the economy. Combine that with a lack of clear signals about the country’s over-all economic health, and it is unlikely consumers will see big swings in gasoline any time soon.” The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com