Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Andrea Langley of Loganville takes advantage of the 2.94 per gallon unleaded gas prices at the Kroger on Rockbridge Road in Stone Mountain on Saturday.
BUFORD -- David McClure said the explanation for the recent falling gas prices is simple: supply and demand.
"The demand isn't there, and they've got to dump it, so they lower the cost," said McClure, a Sugar Hill resident.
McClure filled up on Saturday at the Kroger in Buford at Cumming Highway and Suwanee Dam Road. It's a brand he's loyal to, because of the reduced costs from the Kroger Plus Card, which reduces the per-gallon cost by 10 cents for each $100 spent in the store, or three cents for simply using the card.
McClure, who was at the Kroger in Buford when it listed regular unleaded at $3 per gallon on Saturday, rarely buys from another gas station, and if he does, it's only five or 10 gallons.
"It's that important to me," he said.
Prices for consumers like McClure are falling at a typically busy period for gas consumption: the July 4th holiday. Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for the AAA motor club, said the average price in metro Atlanta is $3.20, eight cents lower than last week.
Brady said the motor club estimates 1.1 million Georgians will travel more than 50 miles during what it labels a six-day holiday, which begins on Tuesday. That's a 4.8 percent increase from last year. About 983,000 of those people will be driving.
Brady said since July 4 falls on a Wednesday, it allows more people to travel because co-workers in a given office could take time off at the beginning, or at the end of the week.
Brady said gas prices are projected to fall even more to start this week.
According to atlantagasprices.com on Friday afternoon, nine area gas stations listed prices at below $3 per gallon. The cheapest -- at $2.95 -- were at a Kroger and a Murphy USA location, both in Stone Mountain. But stations in Suwanee, Duluth and Snellville all were below $3.
"It does make a difference," Brady said. "It provides psychological relief, but also financial relief."
For Buford resident Ricky Thompson, who filled up next to McClure, the prices weren't low enough.
"I remember when I was growing up, it cost $20 to fill up your vehicle," Thompson said. "Now it's triple that."
The average price of gas around Atlanta last year at this time was $3.46, according to atlantagasprices.com.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh, whose company accounts for about 2 percent of all gasoline sales in the country, said falling gas prices help businesses like QT. Because about 75 percent of transactions are made by credit or debit card, processing fees also aren't as high when the total sale drops.
Thornbrugh said cheaper gas prices can entice customers to come in the store to buy drinks and snacks that have higher profit margins for the company.
"If gas prices are cheaper," Thornbrugh said, "obviously it means you have more money to come inside."
Kroger spokesman Glynn Jenkins said busier gas stations, or fuel centers, can be more competitive because the gas in their ground tanks is newer, and recently, cheaper.
"Some gas stations are unable to stay as competitive when retail prices are declining because they may not 'turn their tanks' as often, meaning the higher fuel is still in the ground tanks," Jenkins said. "The fuel at high volume fuel centers may fluctuate everyday with cost, again influenced by supply and demand."