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Drop in Virginia gas prices also drives economic gain

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- With oil prices at their lowest in four years, gas prices are now cheaper around the country, including Virginia.

"These prices are great," said one driver, after another.

According to reports, prices at the pump have fallen 40% since June. Americans are now saving around $630 million everyday.

Cheaper gas may be a factor in why more Americans are feeling better about the economy overall. In a recent CNN poll, 52 percent said they think things are going very well or fairly well in the country now.

It's the first time a majority of Americans have felt that way in eight years.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the average price of gas, at a regular self-serve gas station, in June of 2014, was $3.49 per gallon. On December 2, the price per gallon was at $2.41. That's a savings of 88 cents per gallon.

For a family who purchased gas at the June price for a whole year versus in December at the price of $2.41, they would save over $1,000 a year.

While some are happy it's more money in their pocket, others said there's always two sides to every story.

"In one sense it doesn't really promote alternative forms of transportation like biking and it encourages buying of SUV's, things that typically consume more gas," said driver, Chip Snyders.

Lower gas prices are driving car sales; lower gas prices, higher stock prices. The day-to-day price of gas or stocks don't seem to have much to do with a big ticket purchase like a car or truck. But historically, lower gas prices and high stock prices tend to boost car sales.

"People who delayed a purchase finally have the confidence in their household balance sheet to get out there and buy a car," said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

Auto sales could have their strongest year since 2005 as the economy continues to rebound.

November was one of the best months for car sales in the last eight years, keeping the industry on track to sell at least 16.5 million vehicles through the end of 2014.

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