GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – A new High Point University Poll found that about 2 out of 3 North Carolinians say they are paying a “much higher price” for gasoline this year than they did a year ago. Only they aren’t.

In fact, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Guilford County this morning is less than $3 per gallon: $2.99, if you go by GasBuddy’s national tracking system. Davidson County reported even cheaper: $2.985.

AAA has that average slightly higher, at $3.079, but even that figure is well below last week, last month and last year. That’s true across North Carolina and the nation, too.

GasBuddy has the average price in North Carolina at $3.08 cents, which is 8 cents cheaper than last week, 29.4 cents cheaper than last month and 4.7 cents cheaper than last year.

AAA, which usually reports slightly higher averages, recorded $3.104, which is 9.1 cents less than last week, 27 cents cheaper than last month and 3.6 cheaper than a year ago.

GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan.

“For the first time in 670 days, the national average price of gasoline has fallen below its year-ago level, dropping for the fourth straight week to its lowest level since January,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a release earlier this week. “Every state has again seen average gasoline prices drop in the last week, and it remains very possible the national average could fall under $3 per gallon by Christmas.”

That has been surpassed across several counties in North Carolina but not all of them. Winston-Salem’s average is at $3.052, and Durham-Chapel Hill, which usually trends higher, is at $3.282, based on figures reported by AAA. GasBuddy reports Forsyth County at $3.086 and Orange at $3.335.

Best prices

But there are bargains out there with a Sam’s Club in Winterville reporting the state’s lowest price of $2.69 per gallon.

Around the Triad, GasBuddy found a Murphy outlet in Thomasville that was the cheapest, at $2.77. A Citgo in High Point was $2.78, and a Sheetz in Trinity hit $2.79. In the city of Greensboro, a Circle K on Parris Avenue is at $2.83 per gallon.

HPU’s poll on gasoline prices. (HPU)

In fairness to HPU, the poll was conducted Nov. 10-15 with a 3.2 percentage-point reliability variance. But prices were on the decline, and like sometimes happens with good news, consumers don’t immediately recognize it.

About a third of the respondents said they were paying more than they had in the previous month, but about 45% said it was about the same.

About diesel

The one piece of year-over-year increase involves diesel fuel. But that price is down, too – AAA has the national price of $4.988 (2 cents less in the past week but still well above 2021) and GasBuddy at $5.06 (down about 13.6 cents in the past week) – and there is good news for the future.

“There has also been a drop in diesel prices, which this week will fall back under $5 per gallon and could soon thereafter fall to their lowest level since March.” De Haan said.

Still, De Haan also put some cold water in the fuel tank.

“There may be some concerns coming as the price cap on Russian oil kicks in,” he said. “Retaliation is possible, and while OPEC+ upheld production cuts from last month, they could always cut more production.

“For now, however, we’ll likely see another week of declines at the pump in nearly all areas.”

Further concerns

HPU’s poll also dealt with consumers’ concerns about higher prices for food, clothing, natural gas and electronics, which have been increasing based on the rate of inflation, which increased 8.2% from October 2021 to October 2022.

“People continue to be concerned about high gas prices, along with high inflation in general,” Jerry Fox, associate professor of economics, said in a release about the poll. “Inflationary expectations among buyers is likely to persist until actual inflation shows a steady and consistent decline. High inflation expectations, partly based on high gas prices, is a major factor causing overall consumer sentiment to be less optimistic.”