Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 19, 2012

Still high

Gas prices far surpass those from years past

Although gasoline prices have been falling in Maryland in recent weeks, they still are far from a bargain this Thanksgiving holiday.

The average cost of a gallon of gas statewide Monday was $3.49, according to GasBuddy.com. That is 13 cents lower than Cumberland’s pump costs of $3.62 per gallon.

In fact, 2012 Thanksgiving gas prices are much higher than recent Thanksgiving holidays. Last year the national average for the holiday was $3.32 per gallon, but the national average for Thanksgiving from 2007-2011 was $2.75 per gallon.

Gasoline prices in Maryland this year seem to be at their highest in Allegany County. GasBuddy lists Hagerstown at $3.52 per gallon; Catonsville, $3.24; Waldorf, $3.21; Easton, $3.34 and Ocean City, $3.49.

Because many people are off the Friday after Thanksgiving, travelers have an opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. AAA said approximately  90 percent of travelers or 39.1 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving.

This is a 0.6 percent increase over the 38.9 million people who traveled by auto last year. Air travel is expected to decrease 1.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to decrease one percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $145 last year.

Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay one percent more, at an average cost of $104 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $47, compared to $37 last year.

The high gasoline prices appear to be here to stay — at least for the foreseeable future. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said: “I don’t really see how gas prices could greatly improve between now and Christmas, given the new military action in the Middle East and other pressures. It’s all but certain the national average will not drop under $3.25 per gallon, which could lead to a perilous start to 2013,”

Continued high prices will be enough for some people to stay home — and enough to be an economic problem the U.S. consumer can ill afford.

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