Americans gearing up for the Thanksgiving travel rush are seeing some relief at the gas pump before hitting the road.
For the eighth consecutive week, the national average gas price has been on a decline, now at $3.33 per gallon, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. The welcome trend comes as GasBuddy data counts 11 states where average gas prices have dipped below the $3 mark.
The American Automobile Association noted a four-cent drop since last week to $3.40 per gallon. The recent drops in the price of oil, the main ingredient in gasoline, are likely to lead to an acceleration in the decrease of gas prices. The steady decline has been a feature since mid-September, and given the current market dynamics, gas demand has likely remained flat or dipped, contributing to lower pump prices.
Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Delaware, South Carolina and Georgia are enjoying the lowest average prices, all below the $3 threshold.
Conversely, California, Hawaii, and Washington state are seeing the highest averages, all above $4 per gallon.
De Haan suggested in a Monday blog post that aside from the typical seasonal dip as Americans drive less in colder weather, there may be economic headwinds contributing to the decline. With oil prices also on a downward trajectory, currently hovering around $77 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate crude, down from highs of nearly $90 just weeks ago, consumers are seeing a direct impact on gas prices.
While seasonal changes predictably reduce gasoline demand, De Haan said economic caution adds another layer to the current trend, with restraint echoed in the sentiment rippling through the oil market, as slipping oil prices reflect a wary outlook for global demand.
The analyst noted that the market is in a holding pattern, waiting to see if the lower gas prices are a trend set to continue.
Diesel prices are also retreating, with the most common price at $3.99 per gallon. Like with gasoline, diesel prices have seen a decline, with the national average now at $4.34 per gallon, which is $1.01 lower than a year ago.
Falling prices are a boon for consumers, especially as they head into a typically expensive holiday season. The broader economic implications could be significant, too, potentially easing inflationary pressures that have been a persistent concern throughout the year.
However, with global events ever capable of roiling the oil market, the current window of reprieve may or may not last.