It’s probably just a coincidence — at least according to one expert — but a recent dip in U.S. gasoline prices has coincided with calls for a national boycott of gas stations that began circulating on social media last month.
The boycott campaign, which started on TikTok, called on consumers to avoid buying gas from July 3 to July 5 — right during the busy July 4 weekend when tens of millions of drivers are on the road. One TikTok video that posted on June 16 has been viewed about 15 million times. The boycott topic itself has generated more than 400 million views across the social media platform, Newsweek reported.
Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the United States have been on a steady decline. The average price nationally as of July 5 was $4.80 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s down from $4.881 a week ago and $4.848 a month ago. It’s also more than 20 cents a gallon cheaper than the record high of $5.016 set on June 14, just as the boycott campaign was moving into gear.
However, to put those prices in perspective: $4.80 a gallon looks cheap compared to a few weeks ago, but it’s still a whole lot more than Americans ever had to pay in any other year. Last year at this time, the average was $3.134 a gallon — and many drivers thought that was high.
Surging gas prices in recent weeks are mainly due to limited capacity at U.S. and foreign refineries, increased summer demand and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UPI reported. In response, President Joe Biden and other lawmakers have floated a number of relief measures, including suspending the federal gas tax and sending gas rebate checks to Americans. But so far, those measures are still in the discussion stage.
Could calls for a gas boycott have succeeded where lawmakers have fallen short? Not likely, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “By avoiding filling up for a couple days — that won’t do anything,” he told WFTV in an interview last week.
De Haan also waved off suggestions that a similar boycott effort in 2008 helped push down prices at the pump. “I look back at charts from 2008 and guess what, there’s no major impact from a boycott,” he said. “Gas prices plummeted in September and October 2008. And that continued. That was because the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Wall Street and what tipped us into a recession.”
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