CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Gas prices have increased across the Carolinas as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.
Strong demand has continued into November and is chipping away at the national gasoline inventory, according to AAA Carolinas.
South Carolina’s average is $2.29, which is 28 cents more than this time last year ($2.01) and six cents more from than a week ago ($2.23). According to the Energy Information Administration, the latest gasoline demand measurement was the highest for the end of October since 2006.
South Carolina both made the list of the top 10 states with the largest weekly change in gas prices.
“An unseasonably warm October led to more motorists filling up their tanks for road trips instead of spending time indoors,” said AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright. “We saw an uptick at the pump and our supplies tighten, which has continued into November. This isn’t typically what we see demand-wise during this time of the year, so it’s hard to predict when prices will decline again.”
Though prices have been rising quickly, they typically fall much slower. Consumers could start to feel relief at the pump at the close of the Thanksgiving holiday as the weather turns colder as anticipated and motorists return home from travels. It is too early to predict what prices will look like for December.
At $2.56, the national gas price average has increased nine cents inside of 13 days.
And according to an Associated Press report, oil prices have jumped by about a third since the summer on signs of stronger economic growth around the world and fear of instability in the Middle East.
So far, however, the run-up isn't setting off alarm bells. Prices remain far below their 2014 peaks. And U.S. producers are pumping at a record rate, leading some experts to bet that the higher prices won't last long.
At midday Monday, Brent crude, the benchmark international price, was down 27 cents to $63.25, while the standard for U.S. oil was up 10 cents to $56.84. Those are sharp increases since mid-June — about 35 percent for U.S. crude, nearly 40 percent for Brent.
"That means slightly higher inflation, but we're not talking about unmanageable prices," said Diane Swonk, chief economist of DS Economics. "If it got back to $100 a barrel, then we would have a real problem."
Swonk said discretionary spending by consumers seems to be holding up despite the increase that has already shown up at the pump. In her mind and those of other economists, we are in better shape to manage higher energy prices for many reasons including a stronger economy and job growth.
Still, consumers will feel the effect, even if it's less dramatic than price spikes in 2008 and 2014. In the U.S., the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has risen 30 cents since early July.