US retail gasoline prices to rise as auto holiday travel increases

21 December 2012 18:38  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Retail gasoline prices in the US may rebound soon as year-end holiday travel is expected to increase, an analyst said on Friday.

US automobile group AAA projects that 93.3m Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6% over the 91.8m people who travelled last year.

This increase brings holiday travel figures to within half a million of the decade high mark seen during the 2006/2007 season, AAA said.  

“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said AAA president and CEO Robert Darbelnet.

AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20-3.40/gal by New Year’s Day.

Retail gasoline prices have dropped by approximately 50 cents/gal on average from September through December, but prices still remain at record highs for this time of the year.

However, retail gasoline prices may begin to rise after Christmas Day and into 2013.

“The concern now shifts to 2013. Prices last year rose 68 cents/gal between Christmas Day and their eventual peak,” said senior analyst Patrick DeHaan.

“Over the last five years, the average increase between Christmas Day and the date with the highest price has been 85.2 cents/gal, meaning if we take the average rise combined with today’s national average, we could see the national average hit $4.08/gal,” he said.

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as 22 December to 1 January.

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By: Anna Matherne

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