March is over, and the lion has been digested by the lamb, as gasoline prices began March in an upward trend before the lamb took over and prices began dropping. It's a trend that has led to the first decrease between the start and end of March since 2003, when the national average fell a mere nickle.
"Gas prices in March came in like a lion and are going out like a lamb," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "For the first time in a decade gasoline prices are going to be lower at the end of March than the beginning. GasBuddy data shows that the last time this happened was in 2003 when prices fell a nickle between the start of the month and the conclusion. Essentially what we're seeing here this month is perhaps the largest monthly decrease ever during the month of March- a month that has almost always seen prices finishing the month substantially higher than where they entered," DeHaan said.
It's a welcome sign to disillusioned motorists who have come to expect rising prices in the spring as a tradition. Prices across the country start April nearly 30 cents lower than a year ago, giving more hope to GasBuddy's January forecast that called for the yearly national average in 2013 to be less than 2012's record $3.61/gallon.
2013's YTD national average now stands at $3.52/gallon, versus $3.56/gallon at this same time last year. While the change doesn't sound like much yet, the difference will continue to widen as the trend in 2012 was higher and this year's current trend continues to bring down the YTD number.
GasBuddy also recently revised it's expectations for average prices downward for the month of April and May. Initially, GasBuddy's 2013 forecast released in January called for those months to have average prices of $3.95/gal and $3.85/gal, respectively. The revision saw the averages brought down to $3.65-$3.69 for the two months, a drop of over 20c/gal from the earlier expectations.
The savings could mean motorists spend $77 million less at the pump every day, injecting additional money into the economy elsewhere. Over a month's time, the difference in GasBuddy's forecast would mean $2.3 billion less in money spent at the pump, certainly welcome relief to cash-strapped wallets.