DAYTON, OH (WDTN) — Miami Valley residents are gearing up to hit the roadways this holiday season, and it couldn’t happen at a better time.

According to GasBuddy, today is the first day in 670 days that the national average for gasoline has fallen below its year-ago level.

The average for a gallon of gasoline in the United States is $3.36 a gallon, down from this summer’s max of right around $5 a gallon, but as the holidays near, why are prices falling?

Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis said, “The price of oils continue to be under pressure. That’s pushed the wholesale price of gasoline down. Refineries are back online after doing maintenance. Supply of gasoline is up and that’s pushing prices down.”

Gas has fallen here in the buckeye state just over 17 cents from last week, and Dayton’s average is the same over that period, now averaging $3.06 a gallon. Gasoline inventory is up by 8 million barrels from last month as refineries are utilizing around 95% of their operating capacity.

De Haan said, “We traditionally see utilization rates in the upper eighties. That is 85 to 90%. So to see 95% utilization this time of year is very rare. But that also is indicative that refineries are increasing the amount of supply like gasoline and diesel and that’s one of the biggest reasons why prices have moderated.”

De Haan expects gas to fall over the next week or two, but factors such as China re-opening their economy could push prices up. Along with gasoline potentially falling below $3 a gallon, diesel prices are expected to dip below $5, leading to big savings for consumers, who are strapped for cash during the holidays.

Kara Hitchens, AAA public affairs manager said, “We’ve seen people make cuts in their budgets earlier in the year to make gas prices work within their budget, and so this is giving families a little relief and is coming just in time as Christmas. People want to get together with their family and friends for the holidays, and we know that there’s always lots of gift giving that happens during the holidays as well, so hopefully this will give people a little break.”

De Haan mentioned that if the Toledo BP refinery, which caught fire in September, could get back up and running, gas prices could drop further.