The millions of Americans hitting the road for Thanksgiving will have to combat the highest seasonal average gas prices ever for the weekend, according to GasBuddy.
In its Thanksgiving survey released last week, GasBuddy had projected the national average to be at $3.68 per gallon on the holiday. In the past week, however, a rapid decline in prices has the national average at around $3.64 per gallon. Here in New Jersey, the average prices fell 10.8 cents per gallon to $3.79.
Those local and national averages are considerably higher than the previous Thanksgiving high of $3.44 set in 2012. In the Garden State, prices this week are nearly 36 cents per gallon higher than just a year ago.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said despite these trends it will not slow down many drivers, with 20% more Americans planning to hit the road this year.
“It has been a dizzying year at the pump, with motorists likely feeling nauseous not from the eggnog, but from the rollercoaster ride at the pump with record gasoline prices earlier this year, which have fallen significantly since mid-summer,” said De Haan. “Americans, however, are proving that while we’ll openly complain about high gas prices, most of us aren’t deterred from taking to the highways to observe Thanksgiving with those that matter most to us, especially as precautions from the pandemic have eased.”
GasBuddy points out that 2022 has been a challenging year for drivers, breaking several records due to less global refining capacity as well as fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to its Thanksgiving survey, the number of Americans traveling over the weekend in 2022 is up from 32% last year to 38%, with 62% of Americans not planning to hit the road for the holiday. Twenty-one percent say they will not travel because of the high fuel prices, referencing prices as impacting their plans. However, fewer overall cited high gas prices as a deterrent this year (46% versus 51% in 2021).
Another 23% of respondents say they’ll spend one to three hours in the car, compared with 2021, when most indicated they’d travel less than an hour away. Seventy-three percent do not plan to cross state lines in their travels.
De Haan also noted that because of the recent trends, more relief will be on the way heading into the heart of the holiday season.
“While a decline was expected in more states than last week, I didn’t expect every single state to hop on the bandwagon so quickly. But, it’s terrific news as motorists prepare for Thanksgiving travel, with tens of thousands of stations under $3 per gallon, and thousands more to join in the next few weeks, barring a dramatic turnaround,” said De Haan. “Everyone will be seeing relief at the pump this week, with even more substantial declines on the way as oil prices plummeted last week to briefly trade under $80 per barrel. It’s not impossible that if oil markets hold here, we could see national a national average of $2.99 around Christmas, certainly the gift that every motorist is hoping for.”
“Drivers shouldn’t be in a rush to fill up as prices will come down nearly coast-to-coast into the heavily traveled Thanksgiving holiday,” De Haan added.l