Gas Prices Head Lower After Holiday Spike, But Have They Already Hit Bottom?

Making a payment for gas at a fuel station.
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Gas prices have begun to tick lower in the United States following a brief spike caused by heavy holiday travel and frigid weather, but the trend might be short-lived.

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The average gasoline price nationally fell to $3.267 a gallon as of Jan. 11, 2023, according to AAA. That was down slightly from $3.270 the previous day. Although the price is higher than a week earlier, it is below prices from a month ago and a year ago.

In a news release on Monday, AAA projected that the recent surge in gas prices “may be ending.” As recently as Christmas Eve the average was only $3.09 a gallon, but then it shot up during the final week of 2022 and the first week of 2023.

The biggest price gains last week took place in Ohio (up by 22 cents a gallon), Colorado (17 cents), Wyoming (16 cents), Indiana (16 cents) and Iowa (15 cents).

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“As we head toward February, pump prices will likely dip, barring any jolt in the global oil market,” AAA Spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a statement. “But it is likely that the national average prices we saw heading into Christmas may have been the lows for this winter.”

Although winter gas prices might not dip as low as they were before Christmas, the overall outlook for 2023 is mostly positive. In its latest forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the average retail price this year will be $3.32 a gallon – well below the $3.97 average recorded in 2022.

GasBuddy offers a similar outlook in its forecast, projecting that the national average price of gas in 2023 will drop nearly 50 cents a gallon from the 2022 average of $3.49.

According to GasBuddy’s forecast, the national gas price average “could cool” in early 2023 thanks to seasonally weak demand. However, prices are expected to rise again in late winter and then move closer to $4 a gallon in time for summer.

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“Barring unexpected challenges, prices in 2023 should return to normal seasonal fluctuations, rising in the spring, and dropping after Labor Day into the fall,” the GasBuddy report said.

The highest gasoline prices are forecast for June, with an estimated peak of up to $4.19 a gallon on average.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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