Last month, gas prices hit their highest level since 2014. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.41.
For many Americans, this Thanksgiving was supposed to be an opportunity to finally celebrate with family beyond the computer screen. But for some, the cost of travel, gas in particular, may push off the in-person celebrations for another year.
This year, 32% of Americans plan to drive for Thanksgiving. That’s down from 35% last year, at the height of the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by GasBuddy, a fuel savings platform. It’s a steep drop from 2019 when 65% of Americans drove over the holiday.
The hesitancy may be due to a number of factors, including lingering concerns about the coronavirus. But a major contributor may also be high gas prices, driven up, in part, due to fluctuations in supply and demand.
“It’s unfortunate that everyday Americans are bearing the brunt of the increased fuel costs, especially since this is the first year of travel coming out of the pandemic,” said Mike Landau, CEO of ParkMyFleet, a mobility company.
Last month, gas prices hit their highest level since 2014. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.41, which is $1.29 more than it was a year ago, according to AAA. There’s a possibility prices may still climb even higher on Thanksgiving.
According to GasBuddy, there’s a “remote” chance that should oil suddenly surge, gas prices could quickly follow and potentially beat the Thanksgiving record high in 2012. That Thanksgiving marked the most expensive national average ever for the date — $3.44 per gallon.
“This year, we’re also just cents away from the highest Thanksgiving gas prices ever recorded,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a statement. “Americans are responding to the prices by slamming the car door shut and staying off the road.”
At the start of the pandemic, demand for oil dropped. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil-producing nations cut production. In the US, the reduced demand led to a substantial decline in drilling.
California currently has the highest gas prices in the nation. It costs about $4.70 per gallon of regular unleaded. Mono County, California, has the highest gas prices in the state at $6 a gallon.
For many households, it’s not just about restricting holiday travel. People across the US are regularly limiting visits with relatives or cutting out beloved hobbies to save money on gas, according to the New York Times.
Aldo McCoy, who owns an auto repair shop in Toms River, New Jersey, has been putting in extra hours at work and rebudgeting his household expenses to afford rising gas prices.
“You don’t go out to stores much, or out to dinner,” MCCoy told the Times. “You can’t travel to enjoy yourself. It’s off the table now.”