Travel, gas prices up this holiday weekend

Published 2:48 am Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labor Day weekend is upon us and with that, many residents are taking their last beach trip of the season.

AAA projects some 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from their home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from the 32.1 million people who traveled last year.

The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Aug. 30 through Sept. 3.

Travel for the holiday is expected to reach a new post-recession high and is the third increase in holiday travel for 2012.

Despite a sluggish economy and recent gas price increases, AAA expects the holiday to be driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago.

“In the absence of strong economic growth that might fuel a significant boost in travel volume,” said AAA Alabama spokesman Clay Ingram. “It is an encouraging sign that Americans continue to prioritize travel. Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budget, even with these higher gas prices.”

Ingram said gas prices will move up due to Hurricane Isaac, which hit the Gulf Coast this week.

“Anytime we have to shut down part of the gas infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, we will see our prices climb,” he said. “We are expecting about a 20 to 30 cent per gallon increase from earlier this week, but once we get past the Labor Day holiday, we should see those prices come back down.”

The area average on Friday was $3.60 a gallon; $3.54 from last week; and $3.27 a gallon a month ago.

Ingram encouraged residents to price shop for better bargains.

“The practice of price shopping becomes much more important as we need to put some downward pressure on these prices,” he said. “Price shopping has that effect, so we need to be diligent about it in the coming weeks.”