Georgians won't cut back on vacations, despite gas prices

By Sarah Fay Campbell
sarah@newnan.com
Even with gasoline prices set to reach an all-time high this spring, one survey of Georgians found that most won’t be cutting back on vacations.
In the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates Consumer Survey, 63 percent of respondents said they plan to spend the same amount or more on travel in 2012 than they did in 2011. That’s up from 49 percent in 2011.

But many are trying to get the best deals. The survey found that 31.7 percent of respondents worked harder to find deals and save on travel in 2011 than they did in previous years.

Gasoline prices are expected to peak sometime in May. So, by the middle of summer, gas could be less expensive. Or, prices could plateau.

Many gas price pundits expect summer travelers to still take vacations, but to keep much closer to home.

“While there are no exact figures, analysts agree that high gasoline prices mean more staycations, a term the media has used to describe taking a vacation in your area,” said Patrick DeHaan in the GasBuddy blog.

Gas prices dropped a miniscule amount on Tuesday, down two-tenths of a cent nationally, according to fuelgaugereport.com.

In Newnan on Tuesday, the cheapest gasoline available was $3.76 for regular unleaded. And eight different stations were offering it at that price, according to Georgiagasprices.com. A large number of stations were offering regular unleaded for $3.85, and some stations had prices as high as $3.89 and even $3.95.

The national average was $3.923 on Tuesday, up from $3.898 a week ago, and $3.764 a month ago.

A national average of $4 for regular unleaded likely isn’t far away.

“Despite a lag in consumer fuel demand and a rise in U.S. stockpiles of crude oil, the national average for a gallon of regular retail gasoline is likely to reach $4 a gallon by this month,” said Jessica Brady of AAA, The Auto Club Group, which tracks gas prices.

“Not too much has changed from last week in terms of what’s affecting the oil market and retail gas prices,” Brady said. “President Obama and other world leaders still plan to enact further sanctions on Iran in hopes of preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons,” she said. “As long as tensions remain with Iran, we are going to see elevated gas prices,” Brady said. “Consumers can expect gas prices to increase again this week.”

Eleven states already have an average price of $4 or more, and four more are likely to hit that mark by the end of the week, Brady said.

The cost of crude oil was down at the end of last week. The price of a barrel of oil settled at $103.02 on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday, down $3.85 from the week before.

In the summer of 2008, when gas prices reached their all time national average high of $4.114, oil was trading at $147 a barrel.

The Georgia state average was $3.842 on Tuesday, unchanged from Monday, and up from $3.796 a week ago.

The Atlanta-area average is actually slightly below the state average, at $3.839, down from $3.840 on Monday.



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