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Updated: 06/28/2012 08:01:25AM

Gas prices dropping but habits aren’t changing

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While gas prices continue to tumble down from a year ago’s highs, people in Bartow seem to be taking the fluctuating pricing in stride
and most asked recently say their buying habits haven’t changed. In fact, most said, gas is gas and you’ve gotta have it.

According to AAA Auto Club South, gas prices are continuing to drop week after week and that trend is expected to continue, according to Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman.

“The good news is that retail gas prices continue to drop and are forecast to retreat throughout this month,” she said. “Pump prices are expected to continue to drop again this week.”

In the Bartow area, pump prices ranged from a low of $3.19 per gallon for regular up to $3.24, according to a recent windshield survey.

But regardless of the price at the pump, most buyers said the prices didn’t affect their purchases.

“I’m buying the same amount,” says Dug Amich of Polk City. “It’s just what I have to do. I have a 45-minute commute to my work and the lower prices have helped some, but not enough.”

“I have to buy about a tank and a half each week,” says Terri Gould, a Lakeland commuter who heads daily to her Homeland job. “It doesn’t matter what it costs, I still have to get to work.”

However, Teresa Moore, of Bartow, says, “I just buy it when I have to. I haven’t stopped buying gas, but like everything else, I think I have cut down because of the overall economy.”

Amy Mayberry of Alturas says she’s not buying less gas, but keeps her tank full. “I am not letting the tank go down. I’m topping it off when I see the price is down.”

“I’m lucky,” says Antonio Munez. “I live fairly close to my work. I buy about $20 a week which I have to buy no matter what the price is. I have to go to work.”

Gas dealers were a little more closed-mouth about the rising and falling of gas prices. The Racetrac station manager refused to comment referring questions to their corporate office. Sunoco station employee Joey Jenkins said, however, that with lower prices “it seems like more people are filling up their tanks, not just buying a certain amount.”

“I find I fill my tank up more now,” says Christine Cardiff of Bartow. “But we’ve all had to make changes to save money with the way the economy has been.”

One of the changes she’s made, she said, is curtailing her travel to the Panhandle to visit her fiancé. “I was going up there every other weekend before the prices went up, then I cut it back to once a month. So, to see the costs go down is good, so I can go more often.”

Others also said they had changed their summer plans when gas prices were at their peak. Amich said he opted to fly for his vacation, while Gould said her family trips to Steinhatchee for scalloping could be affected.

“We may not be able to go as often as we used to, but it’s not just gas for the car, but the boat too.”

Mayberry, however, said nothing would change her beach plans. “I work and go to school, so when I can go to the beach, I’m going regardless of the price of gas.”

Brady said the AAA Club believes “lower pump prices may have made it more affordable for many families to travel this summer; consumers are still dealing with tight budgets and are being as frugal as possible.”