Memorial Day 2021: Gas prices expected to hit 7-year high, AAA says

Gas prices are expected to hit their highest mark in seven years during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average gas price across the United States for the week that began Monday was $3.02 per gallon, or roughly $1.06 more per gallon than one year ago.

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Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told ABC News that the recent Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and increased demand are driving the increase that began in November.

“Americans are getting back to normal. You couldn’t drive to go see an MLB game, but now you can. You couldn’t drive to go see a NHL game, and now you can. There’s a lot more things for Americans to do now that the economy’s reopening,” Haan told the network.

According to AAA, average national gas prices for Memorial Day weekend the past seven years are as follows:

2020: $1.96/gallon

2019: $2.83/gallon

2018: $2.97/gallon

2017: $2.37/gallon

2016: $2.32/gallon

2015: $2.74/gallon

2014: $3.66/gallon

And with an estimated 34 million of the 37 million Americans planning to travel during the five-day holiday weekend expected to do so by car, the added expense will be felt in wallets nationwide.

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“I’d say what we’re seeing now is just the market stabilizing, in terms of seeing pumps being refueled, but also remaining high because we know demand is going to be pretty significant,” Jeanette McGee, director of AAA’s external communications, told ABC News.

According to GasBuddy.com, 29% of South Carolina gas stations, 27% of Georgia stations and 25% of North Carolina stations were still experiencing pipeline-related outages Tuesday morning, the network reported.

“Everything is going to be more expensive this year, as many people finally have the opportunity to re-connect with family members or visit a beloved travel destination. But we don’t believe that higher prices will change anyone’s mind about taking a trip,” AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde told KIFI.

“People will simply make other adjustments to their budget in order to get some long-awaited rest and relaxation,” he added.

Meanwhile, McGee suggested filling your vehicle’s gas tank once the quarter-tank mark is reached and, traveling at off-peak times and, when possible, seeking gas stations off the beaten path for lower prices as opposed to the higher prices that will be found at stations just off the nation’s interstates, ABC News reported.

In addition, the AAA Travel Index indicates that daily rental car rates have more than doubled compared to last Memorial Day to an average of $134, while airfare has experienced a 14% year-over-year increase, KIFI reported.