May 19, 2020

Lowest Memorial Day Gas Prices Since 2003 to Kick-Start Summer Driving Season

First sub-$2/gal Memorial Day weekend since 2003 as demand for gasoline rebounds

Motorists hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend will be greeted by the lowest national average for the holiday weekend since 2003, rising gently in the coming days to $1.93 per gallon on Memorial Day, according to GasBuddy. It will be the first time the national average has been below $2 per gallon during the holiday weekend in 17 years, when the national average stood at $1.46 per gallon. The low prices come as demand for gasoline plummeted to the lowest levels in 50 years as COVID-19 led most states to temporarily shut down, reducing gasoline demand, pushing prices down.

“While millions of Americans have been affected by the coronavirus, gas prices plummeted to their lowest since 2016, but what’s different this time around is that this environment is leading to the lowest-priced start to the summer driving season in over 17 years,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Millions of Americans are struggling with job losses and while gas prices have rebounded slightly, the low-priced start to the summer may offer some respite from the dire economic conditions many are stuck in. With Americans reluctant to get on a plane or train for the holiday weekend, which is likely to continue throughout the summer, gas prices may slowly continue to rise, but prices will remain at a steep discount to last year to account for the situation: gasoline demand hasn’t been this low to start summer in decades, and gas prices reflect that situation.”

According to Pay with GasBuddy, a free payments card that can save motorists up to 25 cents per gallon, demand has rebounded nearly 20% from lows reached in early April but remains nearly 30% below demand levels from a year ago. As summer progresses and the economy recovers, demand will likely continue to rise, leading to gas prices likely trending higher most of the summer, which is untypical. Gas prices normally peak in May or June before declining into late summer, contingent on no disruptions from hurricane season.

“I expect gas prices to continue rising, pending economic improvement and a reduction in COVID-19 cases. While forecasting gasoline prices this summer has been the most challenging of any year in GasBuddy’s 20-year history, I’m expecting a national average of $2.15-$2.35 for Independence Day and believe by Labor Day we’ll see a national average of $2.25-$2.50 per gallon,” De Haan said.

Historical national average price per gallon on Memorial Day:

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
$1.74 $1.36 $1.46 $2.02 $2.07 $2.83 $3.19 $3.92 $2.41 $2.70
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
$3.78 $3.64 $3.63 $3.66 $2.75 $2.33 $2.37 $2.97 $2.83 $1.93*


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