Gas Prices Decline, Giving Consumers Extra Holiday Jingle

The price you paid at the pump to fuel your car for holiday shopping trips cost a little more in 2013 than one year ago, according to the latest data from Lundberg Survey Inc. The survey of 2,500 filling stations was completed on December 20 and shows that on average, prices declined 1.72 cents over the two-week period. However, this decline still places prices 0.4 of a cent higher than one year ago.

Bloomberg reported the results and spoke with Lundberg Survey President Trilby Lundberg. “We shouldn’t expect this to continue,” Lundberg said to the news service. “In the same two-week period, wholesale prices paid by jobbers, distributors and retailers have bobbed up more than 3 cents and may crawl up a bit more. Their margin on gasoline was slashed so they need to catch up by raising prices slightly.”

According to the survey, customers in Long Island, New York, paid the most per gallon at $3.62. Tulsa, Oklahoma, residents had the cheapest per-gallon price at $2.84.

AAA takes a daily sample of gas stations in the country, up to 120,000. Its data indicate that the trend identified by the Lundberg survey has continued. The average price nationally on Monday was about $3.25 per gallon for regular gasoline, just slightly above last year’s average of $3.246.

AAA also discussed gas prices in its year-end holiday travel report. The organzation expects travel to increase for the fifth straight year during the holidays, which AAA defines as December 21 to January 1. Nine out of 10 travelers are expected to drive to their holiday destination, or about 85.8 million people.

Gas prices have increased recently, but drivers during the holidays should at least have a break, compared to last year. According to the report, “Planned and unplanned maintenance at a number of refineries and seasonally stronger demand for gasoline. Prices should decline by the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.”

The price of West Texas Intermediate, a benchmark for crude oil, was around $99.32 per barrel on Monday. WTI has not closed above $100 per barrel since October 18. Its price did increase over the two-week period covered by the Lundberg Survey, though, by $1.67.

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