Fourth of July is all about extended weekends, barbecues and road trips but getting in the car this Independence Day will cost more than it has in six years. Analysts say Fourth of July gas prices are expected to average around $3.68 per gallon, up about 20 cents from 2013 and the highest they have been since 2008.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects 41 million Americans will be traveling during the Independence Day weekend, up 1.9 percent from 2013, with an estimated 34.8 million choosing to jump into a car for a road trip. According to the AAA Fourth of July travel forecast, airfare will be 5 percent lower than 2013 while car rental prices will remain the same while Two Diamond and Three Diamond hotels see an increase in prices, 15 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Gas prices, on the other hand, have increased significantly from 2013. The average price of gas during the Independence Day weekend in 2013 was $3.48 and AAA says it expects the price will be 20 cents higher, citing higher crude oil prices.
June tends to be a good month for gas prices to trend down. Michael Green, AAA spokesman, said prices dropped in the past three Junes, generally dropping about 21 cents "but that did not happen (this year) due to the Iraq crisis."
GasBuddy analysts project a similar Fourth of July gas price. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy, told CNBC prices likely will be the highest "since 2008, and we probably wouldn't have (seen such high prices), if it weren't for Iraq." Gas prices are not expected to rise dramatically since crude oil produced domestically has stabilized prices, he said. Another factor in prices is the upcoming hurricane season which could affect refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, USA Today noted. The average price of gas peaked at $4.11 shortly after the Fourth of July in 2008, USA Today said.
The average price of gas for the first six months of 2014 is lower than the same period in 2013, the Fort Wayne (Indiana) News-Sentinel reported. The average gas price in 2014 is $3.52 per gallon while it was $3.57 in 2013 and $3.64 in 2012.
There is a glimmer of hope as gas prices can drop based on what happens in Iraq.
“We might even see gas prices drop slightly between now and next weekend. One of the main reasons why gas prices are high is due to the renewed conflict in Iraq but that seems to have stabilized and current gas prices reflect those market fears," Green told the International Business Times.
A Fourth of July travel forecast infographic, courtesy of AAA, can be viewed below.