It' springtime, but it seems motorists are ready for summer.
AAA’s latest gas price survey found that if gas prices remain low, one in three Americans would likely plan another summer road trip, while 27 percent would increase the distance of one – with Generation X more likely to do both than Baby Boomers.
“Though gas prices have been on the rise lately and are mirroring last year’s prices, the summer prices are still expected to be lower than they were last year,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson.
In addition to increasing the number or mileage of summer road trips, the AAA survey shows that Americans said lower gas prices would encourage them to spend or save more, but this varies based on generation and region:
The majority of millennials (53%) and Gen X (49%) would put aside money for savings as compared to baby boomers (44%).
Generation X is more likely to increase shopping/dining out, drive more on a weekly basis or use more expensive gas as compared to compared to Baby Boomers.
Motorists in the South (11%) and West (10%) say they would use more expensive gas while five percent of those in the Midwest (5%) and 7% in the Northeast would be willing to upgrade fuel type.
But gas prices may not remain low.
While the first few months of this year ushered in daily gas price averages that were, at times, as much as 25 cents cheaper than a year ago in the Carolinas, pump price since the middle of March has been mostly similar to pump prices this time last year.
“Historically, early spring triggers an increase in pump prices due to an increase in demand as Americans put the winter blues behind them and drive more. Another factor pumping up the price is the switchover to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive for refiners to produce,” Wright said.
Moving into spring, crude prices will likely increase as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries continues to implement its agreement with other global crude producers to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day, which remains in effect through June. OPEC has announced that it will not meet in April to discuss the pact. It will meet on June 25 and 26 and may announce a decision to end or extend its agreement at that time.
So what about summer?
AAA expects gas prices to be on par with prices during summer 2018, with May seeing the highest prices of the year.
So, as AAA says, heading into summer, a variety of factors will help shape the forecast.
But unless prices spike far beyond current levels, a safe bet is South Carolinians and people across the country will be on the move this summer -- with an early start during spring.