06 June 2019

When it comes to filling-up at the pump, Americans are changing their perception of what they consider “too expensive.”

AAA’s 2019 Gas Price survey found that 50 percent of consumers think paying $3 per gallon is too high – an increase of 30-cents from last year when half of consumers reported $2.70 as too expensive. That 2019 price point is also 50 cents more than in 2016, when half of consumers thought $2.50 was too much to pay at the pump.

 

Price at which 50% of consumers consider gas price to be too high (2016 – 2019)

2016

2017

2018

2019

$2.50

$2.80

$2.70

$3.00

 

“For North Dakota consumers, paying more to fill-up their gas tank may feel less shocking due to the statewide average approaching $3 per gallon the last two spring seasons,” said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group.

“The good news is that the highest prices of the year may be in the rearview mirror,” he added, pointing to falling crude oil prices and building inventories of both oil and gasoline. AAA expects summer gas prices nationally to be a bit less than last year, dropping to $2.70 or lower. North Dakota’s average generally runs about 5 cents less than the national average, according to LaDoucer. The averages currently stand at $2.78 and $2.74, respectively.

Even with Americans being more tolerant of higher gas prices, you can still expect 74 percent of Americans to make lifestyle changes to offset increased pump prices. Of those, nearly a quarter (24 percent) say $2.75 – a price many consumers will see this summer -- as the price that would push them toward changing habits or choices, including:

  1. Combining errands or trips - 65% (down from 79% in 2018)
  2. Driving less – 60% (down from 73% in 2018)
  3. Reducing shopping or dining out – 49% (down from 61% in 2018)
  4. Delaying major purchases – 43% (down from 50% in 2018)
  5. Driving a more fuel efficient vehicle – 35% (down from 46% in 2018)

Demand Factors

This year, the most expensive West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices, which AAA tracks to understand impact on pump prices, have ranged between $65 and $66/bbl. Most recently WTI crude fell as low as $52/bbl. That is cheaper than last summer when prices ranged between $65 and $73 per barrel – with most daily prices hovering just under $70 per barrel. Historically, crude oil prices and domestic gasoline demand have determined the price Americans pay at the pump in the summer months.

For domestic gasoline demand, summer 2019 has been forecasted to reach some of the highest levels on record. If demand rises during a period of tight supply – especially in local markets -- pump prices could see modest increases.

The price of crude is a driving factor when it comes to retail gasoline prices, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the price motorists see at the pump year-round. While crude prices have been cheaper this year, AAA is monitoring a number of circumstances that could cause crude oil market prices to increase. This includes reductions in global and domestic crude supply, exports, and U.S. gasoline demand.

As Americans settle into summer, many outliers could pave the way for unexpected price bumps, so stayed tuned. Motorists can always find the latest national and state gas price averages and trends at GasPrices.AAA.com.

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About AAA

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.8 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 59 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.