WASHINGTON - As Americans hit the roads over Memorial Day weekend, there won€™t be as much pain at the pump, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Gasoline prices are at their lowest in two years, and with crude oil hanging around $90 per barrel this week, some energy analysts are saying summer could mean even lower fuel costs.
That€™s quite a change from the predictions earlier this year that gasoline prices could break records this summer. Nationally, pump prices will likely average around $3.66 per gallon, according to AAA. That€™s a 26-cent per gallon dip from April€™s high of $3.94 per gallon.
"For the start of the summer driving season motorists will see prices cheaper than they were a year ago, which is welcome relief for the 34.8 million Americans that AAA predicts will travel this Memorial Day weekend," said Avery Ash, who manages regulatory affairs for AAA in Washington, D.C. "Heading into the summer, our expectation, based on current market conditions, is that there is room for prices to continue to move downward."
Declining gasoline prices will positively impact consumer spending, as gasoline is something nearly every American buys. Lower prices will mean more cash in their pockets.
"Lower gasoline prices at a time when the economy is not getting worse, combined with good weather, will make a lot of people happy this weekend," said Jeff Lenard, NACS spokesman. "We expect busy stores this weekend."
Usually, demand for gasoline in the United States doesn€™t hit its peak until the Fourth of July. But the weeks leading up to Memorial Day can "set the tone for the rest of the summer," said Sander Cohan, a principal at Energy Security Analysis Inc. This year, consumers have seen pump prices drop for seven weeks in a row.
"Gasoline prices are still too high, but things are looking up," added Lenard. For more on gas prices and consumer perceptions at the pump, check out the resources included in this year€™s NACS Retail Fuels Report.