Matthew Colmar may not be the most concerned Golden Isles driver when it comes to recent increases in gas prices.
The professional photographer and St. Simons Islander pumped gas Monday into his Toyota Prius at the Parker’s filling station on F.J. Torras Causeway. He’s felt a spike in the cost lately, but it wasn’t hurting his wallet too badly.
“I’ve definitely noticed,” said Colmar, who moved here a year ago from California. “But as long as it stays under $3, I’m pretty happy.”
Prices at the pump this week are enough to keep Colmar content, but that may not be the case with everyone. The average price for regular unleaded is up three cents from this time last week, and are at their highest average in four years, according to the auto club AAA.
Georgia’s average price sits at around $2.71 per gallon, slightly below the national rate of $2.87. Atlanta is feeling the pinch the most, paying an average of $2.78 for regular. The Brunswick area, by comparison, is seeing an average of about $2.71.
That’s in contrast to earlier this year, when regular gas was $2.81 in Glynn County in May. A month before that, Glynn County was paying $2.63 for a gallon of regular — the highest in the state at that time.
Although summer gas costs are up, it hasn’t seemed to deter visitors to the Golden Isles, said Scott McQuade, president of the Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We had a strong holiday week, despite the Fourth of July landing on a Wednesday this year,” he said. “We actually anticipate record bookings (for hotels) and expect to close another record-breaking year.”
McQuade added a strong economy is likely making up for the increased prices of gas.
The reasons for the highest summer gas prices in four years are the usual culprits, said Garrett Townsend, a spokesman for AAA.
“It’s a couple of different factors,” he said. “Primarily, it’s global oil supplies. That’s causing travelers to pay higher prices at the pump. ... Gas prices are very volatile, especially during the summer with what’s happening with refineries. Traditionally, June is the peak price, then heads downward after that. But three cents, five cents (more) here and there are not that abnormal.”
National gas prices were highest so far this year over Memorial Day weekend, when the average per gallon was $2.86. That pales in comparison, however, to the record-high price in Georgia of $4.17 on Sept. 15, 2008.
Mother Nature, Townsend warned, could complicate things down the road, however.
“I would say certainly if something were to happen like last year’s hurricanes around the refineries, that could cause another increase. We’re hopeful that this year will be more calm in that regard,” Townsend said.