U.S. gas prices are now at their lowest level since the February start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which sent prices soaring.
But at $3.61, it’s still the highest price ever recorded for the week of Thanksgiving by AAA. Blame inflation.
“The national average has fallen sharply since the June peak of nearly $5.02,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, in a statement. “But this Thanksgiving will be about 20 cents higher than a year ago, and a dollar more per gallon than a pre-pandemic 2019.”
“However, we can be thankful that gas prices are moving in the right direction for now,” Gross said.
There remains wide geographic variability in gas prices, with averages in southern U.S. states well below the national rate. Notably, the price of gasoline in Texas has broken below $3 to an average of $2.95, while prices in the Northeast remain elevated due to import and supply constraints.
But increasing supplies overall, and relatively fewer drivers, have pulled pump prices downward, AAA said. As demand remains subdued and gasoline stocks grow, drivers will likely see pump prices dip through the Thanksgiving holiday, it said.
AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, a 1.5% increase over 2021, though slightly short of pre-pandemic volumes. While Thanksgiving road trips are up 0.4% from 2021, car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels, AAA said.
Still, this year is projected to be the third-busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000, the group said.
“Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement. “If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”
Rob Wile is a breaking business news reporter for NBC News Digital.