Gas prices fall slightly despite holiday demand increase

Inflation is affecting Americans’ summer travel plans

Higher fuel demand may push gas prices up in the next few days.

The national average price for a gallon of gas decreased to $3.52 for the week ending July 6, according to the latest AAA report. That's two cents lower than last week. 

"Gas prices may rise over the next few days based on slightly higher demand," AAA Spokesperson Andrew Gross said. "But it could be more of a blip than a trend, and demand may retreat once the holiday is further in the rearview mirror."

But an increase in gas demand along with a decrease in supply could spike prices up higher, AAA said.

Gas demand increased from 9.31 to 9.6 million barrels a day last week. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 2.5 million barrels to 219.5 million barrels. 

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Where are gas prices cheaper? 

Despite a slight decrease in average gas prices week-over-week, some places saw larger declines. 

These are the top 10 least expensive markets, AAA said. 

  • Mississippi ($2.96)
  • Alabama ($3.07)
  • Louisiana ($3.08)
  • Tennessee ($3.08)
  • Arkansas ($3.10)
  • Texas ($3.13)
  • South Carolina ($3.14)
  • Oklahoma ($3.18)
  • North Carolina ($3.21)
  • Georgia ($3.22)

Meanwhile, these were the 10 states that had major changes in their average gas prices, according to AAA’s analysis.  

  • Colorado (+11 cents)
  • Arizona (−11 cents)
  • Ohio (−10 cents)
  • Indiana (−9 cents)
  • Utah (−8 cents)
  • Illinois (−7 cents)
  • Pennsylvania (−7 cents)
  • Florida (−6 cents)
  • South Carolina (−6 cents)
  • Texas (−6 cents)

But a potential recession could have a significant impact on nationwide gas prices, AAA said.

"Oil prices have increased this week due to market concerns that supply may be tight through the remainder of 2023," AAA said in its report. "However, price increases have been capped due to ongoing market fears that a recession will occur. If a recession occurs, oil demand and prices will likely decline."

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More Americans want to travel this summer, but worry about inflation  

Overall lower gas prices could influence more Americans to take summer road trips, according to reports. 

In fact, 64% of Americans plan to take summer road trips this year, up from 58% last year, according to a GasBuddy survey. And only 45% said high gas prices were affecting their road trip plans this year, a drop from 70% last year. 

Still, would-be travelers may face some financial challenges. 

"While gas prices are far lower in most areas than they were last year, Americans seem to feel a bit worse about the economy this year on the heels of rising interest rates, the bank crisis, and inflation that has spiked, impacting their ability to take a road trip during the summer driving season," Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a statement. "While the number of Americans planning on taking a road trip is higher this year, we’re finding that many remain cautious about the direction of the economy and thus have not yet cemented those plans in, with some hinting that price uncertainty is making things challenging."

In addition, nearly 40% of people said inflation and high prices have led them to rethink their travel plans this summer, GasBuddy said in its report.  

Other studies reflect some of these sentiments. Nearly half of Americans canceled summer vacations and changed plans, because of inflation. 

"Consumers are concerned about a possible recession this year and are stressed financially due to inflation," ScoreSense said in a survey report. "They are using personal loans to help pay for typical monthly purchases like groceries, utility bills, and mortgage payments. People are looking for money-saving strategies such as couponing, buying things on sale, and switching to store brands over name brand items."

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