Thanksgiving Holiday Gasoline Prices at Multi-Year High

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U.S. gasoline prices averaged $2.53 a gallon Monday, down 2 cents from last Monday’s level, but still on track to raise the coming holiday weekend’s average price to the highest since 2014.

In 2014 Thanksgiving holiday weekend prices averaged $2.79 a gallon, but still well below the peak per gallon price of $3.44 in 2012. Pump prices are 9 cents a gallon higher than they were a month ago and nearly 40 cents a gallon higher than they were last year at this time.

Crude oil and gasoline inventories rose last week and prices have slipped a little for both but still remain higher than might be expected for this time of year.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at Gasbuddy, said:

This year has been unique at the pumps. Gas prices spent much of the time in the weeks approaching Thanksgiving by rising when typically they would be on a sizeable downward trend. On average Americans are paying nearly 40 cents a gallon more than last year, which means collectively we’re spending $800 million more on fuel over the Thanksgiving travel period. Drivers should pay close attention to prices to avoid overpaying.

Gasbuddy offered some tips for motorists who plan to hit the road this week:

State lines often signal a sharp increase or decrease in gas prices due to differences in state gasoline taxes.

Look for a gas station that is not isolated on a long stretch of otherwise isolated highway. Gas prices are often significantly higher at remote locations.

The analysts also noted a 20% year-over-year increase in the number of people traveling this year and an increase in the percentage of people planning longer trips of up to 6 hours. The percentage of motorists planning trips exceeding 7 hours are down this year.

WTI crude oil for December delivery traded down about 1% Monday morning at $55.98 while Brent for January delivery traded at $62.03. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude has not changed much week over week, which could indicate that U.S. exports have stopped rising.