Gas prices drop, inflation still impacting families in Southwest, Central Virginia

As inflation rages on, gas prices have dropped and experts say that trend could continue downward.

ROANOKE, Va. – Lee Daniel II said $20 just doesn’t go as far as it used to.

“The inflation right now is pretty rough,” said Daniel, who lives in Roanoke. “We do get a little help from the government and it’s appreciated, but it doesn’t go as far as it used to.”

Daniel lives with his wife, their three kids, and his in-laws. He said grocery prices and rising rent costs are hurting his family’s bottom line.

“We went from a decent rent around [$]800 so we’re paying almost $1,400 a month,” said Daniel. “If it keeps going up the way it is, I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”

A small sign of hope this week: gas prices in Virginia dropped 12 cents to $3.21 a gallon. That’s $1.65 less than it was this summer when Virginia set a new record high gas price at $4.86 a gallon. Experts say that trend could continue downward.

“We are now back to where we were price-wise on this day back in 2021,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokesperson Morgan Dean.

He said the drop is thanks to lower crude oil prices and lower demand at the pumps.

“That’s very noticeable when you fill up your vehicle,” said Dean. “Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the trend continues.”

So, has inflation led more families in the Roanoke Valley to seek benefits and services provided by the Commonwealth? Not quite, according to Roanoke City’s Director of Human and Social Services, Steven Martin.

According to the United Way of Roanoke Valley, 44 percent of households in the region struggle to make ends meet.

Daniel’s wife, Rebekah, works at Walmart and said she’s seen people have to make difficult decisions at checkout.

“It’s been hard. I mean, they don’t know whether to get food or pay their bills or buy medicine,” said Rebekah.

Though the Daniels said these are sacrifices they’re willing to make for their kids.

“There’s days that we make sure we don’t eat so they can,” said Rebekah. “And it’s been hard.”

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!