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SWFL gas prices steady as Memorial Day weekend approaches

Lee Herald Favicon 16Gas prices are moving ever closer to $3 per gallon for the first time in years as Memorial Day approaches.

Monday’s national average gas price was $2.93 per gallon, up 12 cents in just the last two weeks, according to the American Automobile Association and 57 cents up on this time in 2017.

AAA reports that 14 states, led by California and Hawaii approaching $4 per gallon, are already charging over $3 on average, but that hasn’t caught up to Florida yet.

Gas prices have been relatively stable in the state, flat over the past week to hold steady at $2.82 per gallon. In Naples, they’re also at $2.82 per gallon, rising a penny to get there, while drivers in Lee County are paying a little less at $2.78.

Still, it’s expected, thanks to record demand, rising oil prices, and a tightening of the global oil market, that prices will continue to creep higher as Memorial Day draws closer.

“Current fundamentals will likely lead gas prices higher before the Memorial Day weekend,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Regardless of higher prices at the pump, AAA still forecasts the most holiday road trippers in more than a dozen years. Those with smaller gasoline budgets will find other ways to finance their travel plans, like cutting back on discretionary expenses like shopping or dining out.”

The Oil Price Information Service estimates that current gas price trend means the average family spending about $200 more on gas this summer than they did last year.

While AAA reports that 37 million Americans plan to hit the road for the holiday weekend, an increase over last year, there are already signs that the spring spike in fuel prices is causing some travelers to rethink their summer plans.

In an annual travel survey by GasBuddy released Monday, only 31 percent of Americans plan to take a trip of over 500 miles this summer, that’s down from 56 percent last year. Americans are taking shorter trips, and staying closer to home, the survey reports, with a 25 percent drop in travelers taking a one-week trip, with a big jump in weekend trips.

39 percent of those surveyed said high gas prices are impacting their summer travel decisions.

“With refineries now well positioned for the summer months, we may see some relief in mid-June, but expect this summer to remain the priciest since 2014 with a strong likelihood of the national average hitting the psychological $3 per gallon barrier sometime this summer should we see any unexpected outages or geopolitical tensions flare,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

In 2014, the national average was $3.66 per gallon on Memorial Day. $3.92 per gallon in the record high, set in 2008.

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