Smiles at the gas pump a positive sign

Sauk Valley consumer confidence got a pleasant boost with the decline below $3 a gallon for gasoline prices. Here’s hoping the benefits spread across the local economy.

If there’s a smile on your face, a lilt in your voice, and a spring in your step after you filled your vehicle with gasoline this week, we believe we know why.

Prices in the Dixon area fell below $3 a gallon earlier this week for the first time in quite awhile.

Cracking the $3 barrier first were prices of $2.99 a gallon. Then, prices of $2.97 were seen, and even a $2.95 figure was posted.

To be sure, the boost provided to motorists may be more psychological than financial, but then again, the economy’s underpinnings rest on the mood of consumers.

Surveys of consumer confidence are regularly taken to gauge the national economic mindset. Anything that boosts that mindset has got to be a good sign.

Experts remind us that gasoline prices usually decline in the autumn, as consumer demand wanes after the busy summer driving season, and as refineries switch production to less expensive blends of gasoline for the winter months.

But it’s been a few autumns since the first number on gasoline price signs was a 2 instead of a 3.

Of course, the days of cheap gas – less than $1 a gallon – are gone for good. We haven’t seen prices below $2 a gallon around here for nearly 5 years.

But we have seen prices exceed $4 a gallon in the not-too-distant past, which prompted doomsayers to predict ever-increasing prices. Fortunately, that dire forecast has yet to be fulfilled, much to motorists’ delight.

If you are one of those persons who has a little extra cash in your wallet or available through your debit card, what are you going to do with it? Go out to a restaurant to eat? Make an extra shopping trip to the store? Buy a bigger Thanksgiving turkey? Put it aside for Christmas shopping?

Whatever goods or services the money is used for, here’s hoping the benefits spread across the local economy for as long as moderate gasoline prices last.