Pump prices continue to increase across the country with nearly every state’s average pushing more expensive on the week, on average by four cents. At the start of the Memorial Day work week, the national gas price average is $1.87. Wisconsin's average on Monday was $1.76. On Monday in Lake Mills gas was $1.89 downtown.
The last time the national gas price average leading into the holiday was under $2/gallon was 17 years ago in 2003. That year motorists paid, on average, $1.50 to fill-up. Gas prices this year won’t be as cheap as 2003, but today’s national average is a dollar cheaper than one year ago.
“Gas prices around Memorial Day have not been this cheap in nearly 20 years. However, as the country continues to practice social distancing, this year’s unofficial kick-off to summer is not going to drive the typical millions of Americans to travel,” said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Despite inexpensive gas prices, AAA anticipates this year’s holiday will likely set a record low for travel volume.”
For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast due to COVID-19 impacts on the underlying economic data used to create the forecast.
Americans can expect gas prices to continue to push more expensive, possibly hitting $2/gallon in the next few weeks. This is mostly due to demand increasing as states re-open. This week will also bring the Environmental Protection Agency’s waiver on the sale of winter-blend gasoline to an end. Stations will switch over to summer-blend gasoline, which has a lower Reid Vapor Pressure to prevent excessive evaporation when outside temperatures rise. Reducing the volatility of summer gas decreases emissions that contribute to unhealthy ozone and smog levels. Typically, the switchover to summer-blend can cause gas prices to spike during the summer driving season, but that will likely not be the case this year due to the impact of COVID-19 on demand and crude oil prices.
In the Great Lakes and Central Region, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that regional gasoline stocks have decreased for six straight weeks, bringing total stock levels down to the lowest measurement of the year at 54 million bbl. However, stocks remain above the year-ago level of 49.5 million bbl and the five-year average of 52.6 million bbl.