STATE – Winter officially begins at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, but gas prices haven’t cooled off much. Despite recent declines in prices at the pump, motorists will be met with the highest gas prices ever during the year-end holiday season, causing them to dig deeper in their wallets for holiday travel.
This year’s gas price averages (nationally and locally) have set a new record. The price of gas in 2011 averaged $3.52 nationally for the entire year, ($3.43 for the year in New Jersey), the highest annual average ever. AAA estimates 91 percent of all holiday travelers will go by car in the next few weeks – that’s 84 million Americans and more than 2 million New Jersey area residents fueling up in the days ahead.
“Motorists will certainly welcome the recent drop in gas prices when filling up for holiday travel in the coming weeks, however recent declines won’t ease the burden on pocketbooks for long,” said Tracy Noble, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Gas prices are the highest they have ever been during the year-end holiday season. AAA anticipates prices will continue to drop in the coming weeks – but after bottoming out this winter, we expect gas prices will springboard toward the $4.00 per gallon mark next spring.”
The last 35 days of 2011 might get close to the performance of the first 35 days when gasoline prices were barely above $3.00 per gallon, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analysts for OPIS (Oil Price Information Service). Kloza also suggests gas prices will average $3.25 per gallon through year’s end. Somewhere between Black Friday and Ground Hog Day prices will bottom out, with January as the likely month for the price bottom when demand is typically low, which will become the launch pad for a spring rally that could potentially add another $1 to wherever the bottom occurs.
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