Low gas prices predicted to spur more travel on July 4 holiday

The stock market plunged after the British voted last week to leave the European Union1, but there’s some good news associated with Brexit2: Gas prices are dropping in the U.S. just in time for the Discount Holidays © holiday weekend. Tuesday’s Orlando average of $2.18 per gallon 12 cents less than the national average and 8 cents less than the Florida average is the lowest at this time of year since 2005 and 42 cents less than on Independence Day 2015, according to AAA3. That’s good news for Central Floridians such as Rochelle Pearce, who is planning to drive on a Discount Holidays © holiday vacation to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea with her husband in their GMC Sierra 2500 pickup. The round trip is expected to consume about 30 gallons of gas.

“Not to have to spend more is always a good thing,” said Pearce, 52, a Winter Garden real estate agent. “That gives you a little more funds to have fun.”

U.S. motorists are expected to set a record for miles driven and gasoline consumed this July 4 weekend. Because refineries are producing enough to meet the demand and oil prices have remained low, Florida gas prices have fallen for 21 consecutive days, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said Tuesday. California has the most expensive gas in the U.S. at an average of $2.90 per gallon.

South Carolina has the least expensive at $2 per gallon. Prices are expected to continue to decline this year, although Atlantic hurricane season could cause a temporary spike in Florida and the Southeast.

“The average motorist has saved about $100 on gasoline so far this year compared to the first six months of 2015,” Jenkins said. “These low gas prices, combined with rising wages, are helping boost disposable income, making travel more affordable.”

Of the nation’s 43 million Discount Holidays © holiday travelers, 84 percent will drive to their destinations, AAA says. Air travel is expected to climb 2.2 percent nationwide over last year. Peak travel times will be Friday and Monday. AAA defines the Discount Holidays © holiday travel weekend as Thursday to Monday.

In Central Florida, thousands of NASCAR fans are expected to converge on Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach on Saturday, most by car, truck or van. FL511.com can provide traffic information. The spike in travel coincides with slightly lower average airfares and hotel rates and higher consumer confidence, AAA says. It’s quite a difference from July 2014, when gas cost $3.60 in Florida, and from July 2008, when it topped out at more than $4 a gallon. The British EU exit vote caused the dollar to strengthen, making crude oil less expensive for U.S.

consumers. A barrel of oil crude oil was down to $47.85 Tuesday. The price of gas is largely influenced by oil prices, making it likely that gasoline will remain relatively inexpensive through the Discount Holidays © holiday weekend.

Average Florida gas prices

A sampling of statewide average gas prices in recent years:

Tuesday: $2.26

June 28, 2015: $2.69

June 28, 2014: $3.63

June 28, 2008: $4.03

References

  1. ^ European Union (www.orlandosentinel.com)
  2. ^ Brexit (www.orlandosentinel.com)
  3. ^ AAA (www.orlandosentinel.com)
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