The OPEC oil cartel is not happy about falling gasoline prices, but Americans are pretty chipper about it. According to a report by MarketWatch, consumer confidence soared in October to the highest level in seven years in no small part because Americans are paying less to fill up at the gas station.

How much less? Regular gasoline has fallen to a nationwide average of $3.06 a gallon from as high as $3.70 in late June. The 17% plunge in gasoline over the past four months put prices at a four-year low and they are likely to go even lower. Many analysts think gasoline could fall below $3 a gallon — in many places the price already has — and stay there until at least early next year.

The savings are significant and come as welcome relief to consumers whose weekly paychecks are still barely growing five years after the end of the Great Recession.

Many economists also predict Americans will use their savings at the pump to buy other goods and services — and pump up the U.S. economy in the process.

“We expect the surge in consumer confidence to assist in holiday retail sales growth this year,” said Chris G. Christopher Jr. director of U.S. consumer economics at IHS Global Insight. “Elevated levels of consumer confidence assist shoppers spending on discretionary items, especially in November and December.”

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