Gas prices creeping up for Thanksgiving

by Sarah Fay Campbell

Just when it looked like gas prices might drop below $3 per gallon, they have begun to creep up again.

In Georgia, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.229 on Friday, up from $3.184 a week ago. It's still down from $3.294 a month ago.

Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina all have lower averages than Georgia: $3.135 in Alabama, $3.10 in Tennessee, and $3.097 in South Carolina.

Prices in Florida and North Carolina are higher: $3.358 and $3.262, respectively.

Thanksgiving travel is expected to be down slightly this year, according to AAA.

AAA projects that 43.4 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday, a 1.5 percent decrease from the 44 million who traveled last year. Last year was the highest number of travelers since the recession-driven declines in 2008 and 2009, when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent.

Ninety-percent of travelers will be driving to their destination, down slightly from last year. Median spending is also expected to drop, from $498 to $465, but the average distance traveled is expected to rise from 588 miles to 601 miles.

In Georgia, total travel is expected to drop by 0.6 percent, to 1.24 million. Of those, 1.12 million are expected to drive, with 85,172 travelers flying. "Other" forms of travel are up 18.5 percent over last year.

AAA links the decrease to "weakened consumer sentiment tied to economic uncertainty and the government shutdown," said AAA Spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

The reduction in travel won't be because of gas prices. Thanksgiving holiday gas prices are expected to be the lowest since 2010. Last year, the national average on Thanksgiving was $3.42. The national average Friday was $3.23.

In North Georgia, some stations had regular unleaded for $2.99 a gallon on Friday, according to GeorgiaGasPrices.com.

In Newnan, the cheapest gas was $3.16 a gallon, according to GerogiaGasPrices.com, and $3.19 at several stores. Just a few days ago, it was $3.10.

Gas prices usually bottom out between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Surprisingly, the decreases we've seen in the national average have all but dried up," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy. "It's a bit of a head scratcher to have seen wholesale gasoline prices perk up last week, and it's a bit premature to say we've seen the end of decreases in gas prices for the time being, so I'm hopeful that an uptick in the national average is merely temporary, but then again, this year has featured trends in prices that have all been earlier than expected.”



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