A gallon of gasoline costs less today than at any time since last February, and the price is expected to continue dropping as U.S. motorists head into the Labor Day weekend. Lower fuel prices are expected to encourage nearly 35 million Americans to take a trip of 50 miles or more on the long weekend, the most since 2008.
According to estimates by AAA, about 90% of those travelers (30 million) will go by car and 8% will travel by air. Air travelers will pay about 2% than they did a year ago for a ticket, but car rental prices have remained stable. Hotel prices have risen 9% and luxurious hotels have increased rates by 6%.
The national average price for a gallon of regular gas on Friday is $3.437, one tick higher than Thursday’s $3.436, but more than three cents below last week’s price of $3.468. A month ago a gallon of gasoline cost $3.565, and a year ago the price was $3.534.
AAA also noted that travelers are relying on credit cards to pay for their last fling of the summer. The agency’s COO told MarketWatch, “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year.”
The even better news for drivers is that gasoline costs should continue to decline after the switch to winter-grade fuel is complete. The turnaround has already begun, and the cheaper fuel will get to retail gas stations beginning in the middle of next month.