DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. – With gas prices reaching their lowest mark in nearly a decade, and the holidays fast approaching, Dutchess County residents are gearing up for an especially busy travel season to end the year.
With the national average price for a gallon of gas hovering a few cents above $2, experts have predicted that this week, it may dip below that mark for the first time since 2009. As of Sunday, the national average sat at $2.015, down more than 50 cents from just one year ago.
According to AAA, more than half of all gas stations in America are selling gasoline for less than $2 per gallon, with prices continue to slowly, but steadily drop.
While New Yorkers still pay amongst the highest prices for gas in the country, motorists are still seeing relief at the pump, with prices averaging approximately $2.30, down from more than $3 per gallon last year. In contrast, travelers in Kansas, Missouri and South Carolina are averaging the lowest in the country, at $1.70 per gallon.
With prices at the pump continuing to drop, and airlines reaching recent record low prices for airfare, the holiday travel season is expected to be a busy one. AAA is estimating that 98.6 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles or more from their home for the holidays, a 4 percent increase from the 94.8 million last year.
“One holiday gift has come early this year, “AAA President Marshall Doney stated. “Americans will likely pay the lowest (holiday) gas prices since 2008. Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a getaway.”
Traditionally, prices at the pump drop each year before bottoming out in December or January. Prices then begin to rise again in the spring when the transition to a more expensive, more environmentally-friendly blend of gasoline for the summer driving season.
AAA Public Relations Director Michael Green noted that demand for gasoline typically declines in the winter, resulting in lower prices. Additionally, following a busier than usual fall maintenance seasons at refineries, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is reporting that refinery production is outpacing both 2014 and current demand, meaning prices should remain steadily low heading into the new year.
“U.S. crude oil stocks are also within striking distance of an all-time high, and as a result, questions about continued production and storage capacity are beginning to arise,” he added. “This combination of ample production and increasing gasoline inventories are likely to keep gas prices relatively low, and barring any unforeseen shifts in market fundamentals, averages are likely to continue to decline leading into 2016.”
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