After a year in which drivers paid some of the highest ever prices at the gas pump, the holidays are bringing some relief as prices drop ahead of another busy travel season.
The average cost of a gallon of gasoline in California is $4.34, according to the American Automobile Assn. That’s down about 80 cents from a month ago and about 30 cents from a year ago.
About 112 million people are expected to travel Friday through January 3, according to the AAA. About 101 million will travel by car, 7.2 million by air and 3.7 million by other modes of transport, including bus, train and cruise ship.
According to Doug Shupe, corporate communications manager at the Auto Club of Southern California, gas prices across the country have fallen dramatically over the past month, largely due to a holiday lull. Heading into December, a gallon of regular gasoline was the lowest average price of the year, according to AAA.
After the Thanksgiving break, fewer people were driving and refueling their cars, Shupe said, and the lack of demand caused gas prices to plummet.
Other factors also helped lower the price at the pump. Local oil refineries that were shut down earlier this year due to maintenance issues are now back online; the price of crude oil fell below $75 a barrel heading into November; and according to the AAA, there was an increase in the country’s domestic gasoline supply, among other things.
But there are signs that gas prices will rise again as more people fill up for winter holiday travel.
“The price decline we saw over the past month has slowed down a lot. It’s not clear exactly how long these lower prices will last,” Shupe said. “The real question is how markets will react after January.”
More than 8 million people will travel by car from Southern California, a slight increase from last year and roughly comparable to the 2019 holiday crowds. Las Vegas, San Diego, and Mexico are some of the top travel destinations for people in California this season. Southern California.
The average price of gas in the Los Angeles and Long Beach area is $4.42 per gallon, nearly the same price as the day before. A week ago the price was $4.51 and a month ago it was $5.21, according to AAA’s gas price tracker. Los Angeles and the rest of the country saw three historic gas pump spikes in 2022, increases linked to a volatile global market and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, analysts said.
Across the country, there are about 20 states where the average price is less than $3 per gallon.
It is unclear what effect the current winter storms will have on gas prices going into the new year.
“We’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out next week,” Shupe said.
AAA reminds drivers that the best way to save fuel is to properly maintain their vehicles, keep tires fully inflated and avoid unnecessary loads such as summer sports equipment. They also recommend that drivers download a gas tracking app to find the lowest prices in their area, rather than driving around looking for lower prices.