December 22nd, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, December 22, 2014) The steady decline in gas prices this autumn is now longer than any period AAA has previously tracked. The national average price of gas has declined for 88 days in a row, which is the longest consecutive streak on record. Gas prices have fallen every day since September 25 to today’s average of $2.39, which is the lowest average price per gallon since May 2009. On Sunday, the decline in gas prices broke the previous record of 86 days set in 2008 during the height of the Great Recession.
The best news for consumers is that the decline in the price at the pump has accelerated during the previous week. The current week-over-week drop of 15 cents is the largest such decline in more than six years. Motorists are paying 43 cents less than one month ago and 85 cents less than one year ago to refuel their vehicles, which mark the largest declines for those spans since 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Comparatively low prices for retail gasoline are helping consumers to save more than $450 million per day on gasoline compared to the highs earlier this year, which likely is having a positive effect on holiday shopping and travel. AAA estimates that 98.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday season, which is the most on record. Barring any disruptions in domestic production or unexpected spikes in the global price of crude, consumers could see prices drop another 10-15 cents per gallon to ring in the New Year.
The only states where the average price for gasoline remains above the $3.00 per gallon threshold are Hawaii ($3.59) and Alaska ($3.22). In the lower 48 states, drivers in the Northeast are paying the most per gallon, led by New York ($2.88), Vermont ($2.81) and Washington, D.C. ($2.80). The average price at the pump is below $2.50 per gallon in 30 states and motorists in Missouri ($2.07), Oklahoma ($2.09), Texas ($2.16) and Kansas ($2.17) are paying the least per gallon for retail gasoline.
The average price at the pump is discounted in every state and Washington, D.C. on the week, month and year. Week-over-week consumers in 46 states and Washington, D.C. are enjoying double-digit savings, with the largest savings at the pump occurring in Montana (-27 cents), Michigan (-25 cents) and Indiana (-23 cents). A total of seven states are posting savings of 20 cents or more over this same period and, while they mark the least dramatic declines in the nation, even motorists in the Northeast, one of the nation’s most expensive regions, are benefiting from weekly savings of more than a nickel per gallon: Maryland (-10 cents), New York (-10 cents), Delaware (-10 cents) and Vermont (-9 cents).
Over the past two weeks, the average price has dropped by double-digits in every state and Washington, D.C. Drivers in 26 states are saving more than a quarter per gallon over this same period, with the largest discounts in Michigan (-45 cents), Montana (-45 cents) and Idaho (-44 cents). Month-over-month the average price is down by a quarter or more in every state and 15 states are registering savings of 50 cents or more per gallon. Consumers in Idaho (-69 cents) are saving the most per gallon, followed by the Midwestern states of Michigan (-67 cents), Indiana (-61 cents) and Iowa (-59 cents).
The most extreme discounts continue to be reflected in yearly price comparisons. Every state in the continental U.S. and Washington, D.C. is posting saving of at least 50 cents per gallon, and motorists in Ohio (-$1.07), Indiana (-$1.07), Michigan (-$1.04) and Kentucky (-$1.03) are saving more than one dollar per gallon. Motorists in Alaska (-43 cents) and Hawaii (-34 cents), the nation’s most expensive markets for retail gasoline, have also seen the price at the pump fall by more than 25 cents over this same period.
Abundant global supply and sluggish demand growth have helped push the global price of crude down by more than $50 per barrel since June. Although crude oil prices have seen dramatic price swings in recent years, this year’s plummet has been even more extreme and has triggered speculation surrounding the impact of sustained low prices for crude. Tumbling global prices have the potential to impact supply by slowing production in higher cost regions, which includes the United States. Additionally, a number of countries depend on oil income to balance their economies, and sustained low prices could lead to civil unrest as those governments struggle to deal with lower revenue streams. At the close of formal trading on Friday, WTI closed down $2.14 per barrel at $57.81 on the NYMEX, the lowest settlement since May 2009.
December 13th, 2012 by Amanda Shapiro
ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 13, 2012) – AAA projects 93.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 91.8 million people who traveled last year. This increase brings holiday travel figures to within half a million of the decade high mark seen during the 2006/2007 season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
Highlights from AAA 2012/13 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast include:
- Year-end holiday travelers to total 93.3 million, an increase of 1.6 percent from the 91.8 million that traveled last year
- Ninety percent of travelers (84.4 million) to travel by automobile, representing 26.7 percent of the total U.S. population
- Holiday air travel expected to increase 4.5 percent to 5.6 million travelers from 5.4 million in 2011
- Median spending expected to increase almost six percent to $759, compared to $718 in 2011 with transportation costs consuming about 29 cents of every travel dollar.
- Average distance traveled to increase to 760 miles round-trip from 726 miles, an expected result with an increase in air travelers
- Travel volumes for the year-end holidays are generally very stable, only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent
“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”
“As we enter the New Year, one unknown for travel is the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ and the resulting uncertainty related to near-term tax and benefit changes. Having these items unresolved complicates many travelers’ ability to develop an accurate household budget as they plan for future spending and saving decisions. It is important that Congress and the President work together to quickly resolve the situation for the good of the nation,” said Darbelnet.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20-3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year. AAA does not expect gas prices to have a major impact on travel volume, but consumers could have more money to spend on holiday shopping, dining and entertainment if prices drop through December as expected.
Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel increases
Approximately 90 percent of travelers (84.4 million) plan to travel by automobile this holiday season. This is a 1.3 percent increase over the 83.3 million people who traveled by auto last year. Air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent as six percent of travelers or 5.6 million will take to the skies.
Those traveling by air will find lower airfares according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. For the year-end holiday period the average lowest round-trip rate is $203 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, a three percent decrease from last year. Approximately 3.3 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.
Hotel rates to increase slightly, car rental rates increase 41 percent
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, year-end holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase two percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $129 per night compared to $126 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay three percent more, at an average cost of $95 per night. Daily car rental rates will average $56, compared to $40 last year.
Average travel distance increases
According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during holiday period is expected to be 760 miles, further than last year when travelers planned to log 726 miles.
Median spending up nearly six percent; top activities are dining and spending time with loved ones
Median spending is expected to be $759, a six percent increase compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($718) last year.
Dining (67 percent) and spending time with family and friends (66 percent) and are the most popular activities planned by travelers. It is not surprising that during holiday season shopping is the third most popular activity with 57 percent expecting to shop. More than one-third (34 percent) of holiday travelers plan to sightsee during their trips.
AAA offers digital travel planning resources
AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.
The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile.
On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012/13 Year-end Holiday Travel Forecast can be found here.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
February 22nd, 2012 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2012) The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil increased by $2.60 per barrel today to settle at $105.84 at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX, after markets were closed yesterday for the Presidents’ Day holiday. This is the highest settlement price since May 4, 2011. Crude prices today were driven higher by bullish news overseas, as European finance ministers yesterday agreed to a Greek bailout package and Iran halted its oil exports to France and Britain.
An improving economy overseas would be expected to consume more oil, which exerts upward pressure on prices. At the same time, when economies strengthen overseas, the U.S. dollar weakens and the price of oil (traded in dollars) becomes relatively less expensive. Oil futures subsequently become a more attractive investment, which exerts upward pressure on prices, as was the case today. While Iran’s announcement that it would cut off oil exports to Britain and France is worth noting, as it continues the recent escalation of geopolitical tension and uncertainty in the market, the ultimate impact on supply is limited. Britain and France get the majority of their oil from the North Sea region, and Iranian imports account for only 3 percent of their daily needs.
Despite continuing reports of historically anemic demand, crude prices last week were pressured higher by positive economic reports and increased tension with Iran. As Greece moved closer to securing the bailout necessary to prevent default on its sovereign debt, the U.S. economy continued to show signs of recovery, and WTI crude prices rose to end the week at a new 2012 high. At the same time, WTI continued to trade at a significant discount to Brent crude (the historic European benchmark) due to the bottleneck of WTI at its delivery location in Cushing, OK. With this in mind, many analysts have suggested that Brent may be a more accurate global benchmark for oil prices at this time. While refineries in the center of the country have access to these relatively cheaper crude products, refineries near the coast must purchase crude at more expensive global prices. This disparity is subsequently reflected in the price that motorists are paying at the pump, as those in the center of the country see relatively lower prices than those closer to the coast. Please see below for a state-by-state list of today’s average price for a gallon of regular gasoline.
Motorists in Hawaii and California are paying on average more than $4.00 per gallon, while those in Colorado and Wyoming pay less than $3.10. Drivers in Hilo, HI pay the highest price of any metropolitan area nationwide ($4.44 per gallon) however the ten highest priced areas in the lower 48 states are all in California and are all above $4.00 per gallon as well. These areas with the top-ten highest prices are listed below.
- Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompac, CA: $4.105
- San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles, CA: $4.103
- San Diego, CA: $4.087
- LA-Long Beach, CA: $4.082
- San Francisco, CA: $4.079
- Ventura, CA: $4.077
- Orange County, CA: $4.071
- Riverside-San Bernardino, CA: $4.047
- (tie) Oakland, CA: $4.031 and San Jose, CA: $4.031
The current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.57. Today’s price is six cents more expensive than one week ago, 18 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 40 cents more expensive than one year ago.