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Welcome to Memorial Day weekend, a weekend traditionally filled with fun, food, family—and driving. If you are one of the lucky ones that gets to go out and about this weekend, you’re going to find at the pump that gas prices are at a nearly 20-year low.
Heading into the holiday weekend, the national average for gas prices, according to AAA, is just $1.94. per gallon—that’s $.90 below last-year levels.
The last time gas prices were under $2 per gallon heading into Memorial Day weekend was in 2003, when drivers paid just $1.50 per gallon.
But AAA is not expecting a rush on travel this weekend.
“Despite inexpensive gas prices, AAA anticipates this year’s holiday will likely set a record low for travel volume,” AAA spokeperson Jeanette Casselano has said. But AAA declined this year—for the first time in 20 years, to publish a travel forecast for the weekend because of the pandemic, which has made it difficult to analyze the usual economic data needed to reach such conclusions.
One forecast that AAA has given is that gas prices will pick up in the coming weeks as more states lift stay-at-home orders.
The EIA reported that gasoline demand hit 6.79 million bpd last week. This compares with the 9.429 million bpd a year ago.
Still, AAA is expecting there will be some “short-lived” uptick in gasoline demand for weekend travelers.
But the lack of a forecast for gasoline demand for the holiday suggests that it is at least possible that we may see a shocking up-tick in demand by venturous weekend travelers. This will still be hampered, however, not just by fears of the virus, but also by the dire financial straits that some have found themselves in due to the shutdowns.
GasBuddy has said that it, too, is having difficulty generating forecasts. According to GasBuddy, forecasting gasoline prices this summer “has been the most challenging of any year in GasBuddy’s 20-year history.” GasBuddy’s summer forecast sees gasoline prices between $2.15-$2.35 for Independence Day.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.