Rising gas prices have become the theme for the 2021 summer travel season. According to GasBuddy, many drivers will see prices remain above the $3 per gallon mark in time for the upcoming holiday weekend. Even with some relief from a recent small drop in prices, the national average price of gas on July 4 is still expected to be $3.11 per gallon, some 43 percent, or 93 cents more than last year’s Covid-induced price of $2.18.
According to GasBuddy’s in May, 46 percent of Americans’ plans this summer were affected by high gas prices, which had been rising steadily until recently. Prior to the upcoming holiday weekend, Americans saw gas prices spike in early March, and again in mid-May due to increasing demand and the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.
Exacerbating the price spike is the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline just weeks ahead of the busy travel season. The pipeline delivers 45 percent of the gasoline supply to the Southeast and was shut down for six days causing massive panic and fuel shortages.
“The numbers are clear: people are itching to travel as the nation recovers from Covid-19 but are frustrated with some of the highest holiday weekend gas prices in quite some time,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Gas prices have been increasing for months due to the continued rise in gasoline demand as a myriad of destinations reopen ahead of the summer driving season. The Colonial Pipeline shutdown only highlighted how much more reliant consumers have become on gasoline since the pandemic hit. Drivers don’t need to worry too much though, as there is an end in sight. Prices should ease up ahead of the holiday, mainly in areas where the pipeline challenges were most severe. Be warned that a rebound may happen as we approach midsummer, should gasoline demand rise to near-record levels.”
Forty-six percent surveyed say that high gas prices are directly impacting their travel plans compared to only 4 percent saying so in 2020.
Determined to get out on the road this summer at almost double the rate of last year, Americans’ number one priority is avoiding high travel costs over pandemic concerns. And, as most will be traveling by car, that includes saving money on gas.
“Highlighting how important the rising price of fuel has again become, the program saw intense interest during gas shortages last week,” said De Haan, “We expect that trend to continue as people hit the road during Memorial Day weekend. More than ever, we’re looking for reliable, convenient, and cost-effective ways to fill up.”