Just two days before Christmas, average U.S. gas prices have topped $3 a gallon. And you can expect prices to keep rising into spring and summer.
This isn’t a typical run-up.
Prices usually peak in the summer and slide down after Labor Day. In recent autumns, regular unleaded dropped an average of 22 cents a gallon, even when you exclude the freakish plummet in 2008 after the economy popped.
But this autumn, gas prices shot up 30 cents a gallon.
Various experts point their fingers at growing demand amid a slowly recovery economy, tightening supplies and the U.S. dollar losing ground to inflation.
The last time Americans paid an average of $3 a gallon at Christmastime was in 2007. There was a similar run-up then, and prices went on to bust $4 the next summer.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says we shouldn’t see such record highs this time, predicting gas will average $3.12 a gallon next summer.
Meanwhile, AAA reports that 92 million Americans will make trips over the next 11 days, the most since the 2007-08 holiday season. Nine out of 10 will drive.
Also, they will travel farther and spend more than last year, AAA says. In fact, despite unemployment hitting 9.8 percent last month, spending on transportation, recreation, food and accommodations over the next three months should rise 3.4 percent from the year before, even outpacing economic growth.
Hope everybody has a great Christmas and New Year’s. Have fun. Be safe.