GasBuddy released the results of its annual summer travel survey May 19, at a moment when Americans face skyrocketing inflation and record-high gas prices, with the U.S. average topping $4.50 a gallon. It’s currently at $4.77 here in the Garden State.
Even with the current pain at the pump, the survey revealed that 58% of Americans plan to road trip this summer, a rise from last year when gas prices were nearly $1.50 per gallon lower.
But, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed have yet to confirm their plans, with 38% saying that high inflation is leading to difficulty in planning summer trips. And Americans’ intent to travel only increased one percentage point year over year and is currently 18% lower than 2019’s pre-pandemic level.
GasBuddy is forecasting the national average gas price on Memorial Day weekend to be about $4.65 per gallon, a 51% increase from last year.
“Against a backdrop of gas prices that have continued to set new records ahead of Memorial Day, Americans have been resilient in their desire to hit the road, but we’re certainly seeing increased hesitancy due to rising prices at the pump. Soaring inflation has led to uncertainty over rising costs,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The COVID factor is still present, but has been dwarfed by Americans’ concern over high gas prices and dwindling affordable travel options to make use of the best months of the year.”
Nearly 70% of people surveyed said their travel plans have been affected by high gas prices, an increase of 24% over 2021. While more than one-third indicated that high inflation has made planning more difficult, and the majority (65%) are taking only one or two road trips.
“It’s making it hard for people to be able to plan when costs are constantly going up,” said De Haan.
“Consumer confidence is lower than we’ve seen in many years. Some sources even suggest that confidence is lower than during the 2008 recession,” said Dafna Gabel, vice president, Strategic Insights for PDI Software. “Those surveyed in 2022 shared that inflation has impacted behavior at the pump and in-store across the U.S., and barring significant shifts in inflation, these behavior adjustments are expected to continue.”
“We’re seeing gas prices kind of disconnect with the price of oil because refineries are struggling to keep up with insatiable demand,” said De Haan. “So, it’s going to be a pricey summer.”