CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginians are getting a small present heading into the holidays: lower gas prices.
Gas prices have dropped across the region in recent weeks, falling more than 10 cents in the last week alone. The decline is part of a nationwide trend that's seen the daily average U.S. gas price drop 25 days in a row.
According to AAA, West Virginia's average gas price had dropped from $3.45 last week to $3.35 as of Wednesday.
AAA analyst Avery Ash said the nationwide declines were being driven by a combination of factors, including a switch to less-expensive winter fuel blends, cheaper crude oil, lower demand and increasing gasoline inventories.
But while the price is dropping, the average is still slightly higher than the $3.33 state average from one year ago.
Should prices stay above the year-ago level through the weekend, they will set another all-time high for the Christmas and New Year's Day holiday travel season.
But there are signs that prices are continuing to fall.
Prices varied substantially across the state on Wednesday.
Drivers at Sam's Club in Parkersburg actually saw regular unleaded at $2.99 per gallon Wednesday morning. Some Parkersburg Speedway customers with discount cards were able to pay $2.97 per gallon.
That would mark the first time in more than a year that state drivers paid less than $3 for a gallon of gas.
Charleston area drivers haven't been as fortunate.
Gas stations near the Capitol still had $3.49 prices posted as of Wednesday morning. Other Charleston stations had prices between $3.29 and $3.39, according to GasBuddy.com.
Putnam County drivers were enjoying prices in the $3.15 to $3.09 range.
Drivers aren't the only ones happy to see lower prices.
Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, said retailers also are glad to see the decline.
"Believe it or not, the lower the price, the happier we are," Vineyard said.
It all has to do with the amount of money gas stations have to set aside to buy fuel.