Pumping gas

Shannon VanSickle, who works at Golden Pond Country Store in Holderness, filled up her tank Wednesday after gas prices dropped to $1.59.

When the price of gas dropped to $1.69 a gallon at Greene’s Corner Market in Moultonborough, owner Dede Maroun got a message from someone who thought it must be a mistake.

But it wasn’t.

“Over the last couple of weeks it went from $2.09 and then went to $1.89 and now $1.69. We’re doing our best to weather the storm and stay open for people under these circumstances so they can grab something here without having to go too far,” Maroun said.

The coronavirus pandemic has put the brakes on demand as fears of a recession loom. In some parts of the country, gas prices have now dipped to below $1.

According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in New Hampshire was $2.14 — down from $2.48 a year ago. The national average is $2.09.

Golden Pond Country Store in Holderness has some of the cheapest gas in the state at $1.59 a gallon.

Store manager Robin Weeks said the price was lowered Tuesday when the store received a delivery.

“Obviously this is a hard time for everybody and being able to see some people excited about something instead of scared has been good for us and good for them. It’s a silver lining I guess.

“We understand that people are using less gas, so if there’s any little bit that we can do to soften what everybody is going through then maybe this will help,” Weeks said.

Service clerk Shannon VanSickle made sure to fill up her tank Wednesday with the prices so low.

“Hopefully it’ll help bring in some customers, seeing that things are a little slow these days,” she said.

The drop in prices is a reflection of a soft economy and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, said Russ Thibeault, president of Applied Economic Research in Laconia.

“Every cloud has a silver lining. It’s too bad we can’t stock up on gasoline the way we seem to stock up on toilet paper,” he said.

Prices are also plunging on the Seacoast.

O’Keefe General Store in Seabrook is selling gas for $1.59 a gallon, while the price at Seacoast One Stop in Seabrook was $1.73.

The cheaper gas comes at a time when Americans need all the help they can get, Thibeault said.

But it’s also a time when fewer people are on the roads with businesses and schools shut down, employees working from home, and domestic and international travel disrupted.

“There’s a reason that gasoline is so cheap. The economy is grinding to a halt,” he said. “We’re not commuting to work. We’re not going to restaurants. We’re basically hanging tough at home. Although gas is cheap right now, we don’t have a reason to take advantage of it.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2020