Average U.S. gas prices at the pump have fallen to the lowest level since early January 2000, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Oct. 30).

Citing U.S. Department of Energy data, the Journal reported the average gas price has fallen 26 cents a gallon since mid-September to $1.27 a gallon.

In the Midwest, where gas prices were the highest in the country last summer, prices have fallen 45 cents a gallon to an average of $1.18. In low tax states such as Georgia and South Carolina, some dealers are selling regular unleaded for less than $1 a gallon.

OPEC even is warning its members that crude oil prices could collapse early next year unless production is cutback in response to weak demand.

Lower gas prices, of course, are good news for snowbird RVers heading to Florida and other Sunbelt locations, but will it help stimulate the RV retail and wholesale markets?

Unfortunately, demand for petroleum products is weak due to a global economic slowdown. And as Southern California RV dealer Dave Altman said, “We (the RV industry) are still a slave to consumer psychology.”

Altman, president of Altman’s Winnebago, a dealership with locations in Baldwin Park, Carson and Colton, Calif., is among those who agrees the reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could help the RV industry compete better against some other forms of leisure time activity.

“The industry will get a boost from family values and the people who don’t want to fly or cruise any more,” he said.

But it is the overall condition of the economy that will dictate the industry’s outlook, Altman said. “If we overcome the economic concerns, we (the RV industry) will have a real good 2002.”

Altman described the recent California RV Show in Pomona as “a bright spot” after a “soft” September and an October when traffic on his dealership lots was light.