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Katrina's aftermath

What a difference a week makes.

After panic at the pump created long lines at many Gwinnett gas stations, things returned to normal this week. The Colonial and Planation pipelines, which supply gasoline from the Gulf Coast to Georgia and the mid-Atlantic, were nearly back at full capacity by Labor Day.

Plastic bags over gas pumps were a much less common sight. So were lines of cars spilling from gas station parking lots into traffic.

Gas prices fell to about $2.92 statewide as of Friday. The drop was spurred by Gov. Sonny Perdue's order to suspend Georgia's gas tax. The Georgia Senate was expected to ratify the order today.

Katrina may affect

consumer confidence

Hurricane Katrina's economic damage is becoming clear.

Nine days after devastating the Gulf Coast, the storm is taking aim on consumer spending the backbone of the economy in recent years. Georgia State University economist Rajeev Dhawan said prices at the pump may not start to fall noticeably for a few more weeks. It will take at least that long before Gulf refineries begin operating again at full capacity.

Few things shake American consumer confidence harder than skyrocketing costs of gasoline.

"We can expect an immediate impact on consumer's discretionary spending," Dhawan said in an updated economic forecast.

Images of New Orleans residents essentially refugees from the flooded city will also affect consumer confidence in September and October. That's bad news for retailers hoping to build momentum heading into the holidays.

Price gougers beware

The state's crackdown on price gouging is in full swing.

The Gov.'s Office of Consumer Affairs has issued 80 letters of notice to gasoline stations that may have illegally hiked their gas prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Several notices were sent to Gwinnett gas stations suspected of price gouging, and "LKatrina's aftermath

What a difference a week makes.

After panic at the pump created long lines at many Gwinnett gas stations, things returned to normal this week. The Colonial and Planation pipelines, which supply gasoline from the Gulf Coast to Georgia and the mid-Atlantic, were nearly back at full capacity by Labor Day.

Plastic bags over gas pumps were a much less common sight. So were lines of cars spilling from gas station parking lots into traffic.

Gas prices fell to about $2.92 statewide as of Friday. The drop was spurred by Gov. Sonny Perdue's order to suspend Georgia's gas tax. The Georgia Senate was expected to ratify the order today.

Katrina may affect

consumer confidence

Hurricane Katrina's economic damage is becoming clear.

Nine days after devastating the Gulf Coast, the storm is taking aim on consumer spending - the backbone of the economy in recent years. Georgia State University economist Rajeev Dhawan said prices at the pump may not start to fall noticeably for a few more weeks. It will take at least that long before Gulf refineries begin operating again at full capacity.

Few things shake American consumer confidence harder than skyrocketing costs of gasoline.

"We can expect an immediate impact on consumer's discretionary spending," Dhawan said in an updated economic forecast.

Images of New Orleans residents - essentially refugees from the flooded city - will also affect consumer confidence in September and October. That's bad news for retailers hoping to build momentum heading into the holidays.

Price gougers beware

The state's crackdown on price gouging is in full swing.

The Gov.'s Office of Consumer Affairs has issued 80 letters of notice to gasoline stations that may have illegally hiked their gas prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Several notices were sent to Gwinnett gas stations suspected of price gouging, and "Lawrenceville seemed to be one of the popular areas," state Consumer Affairs spokesman Bill Cloud said. Most of the notices were sent to stations in metro Atlanta, Cloud said.

Seeing an chance for a quick profit, some gas stations increased their prices to as much as $6 a gallon for regular gasoline, Cloud said. After receiving a notice, gas station owners have a chance to explain why their prices increased so much, or they can admit fault and face a fine.

It may take several more weeks before investigators levy fines, Cloud said.

Doug Sams can be reached via doug.sams@gwinnettdailypost.com.