Gasoline prices below $2 a gallon heading into holiday weekend but most expected to stay home

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gasoline prices have jumped seven cents a gallon in West Virginia this week but the prices at the pump are still almost a dollar below what they were Memorial Day Weekend 2019.

Jim Garrity

State motorists are paying an average of $1.88 a gallon. AAA East Central Public and Community Relations Manager Jim Garrity said that’s more than last week but it should be kept in perspective.

“Last year it was $2.75. So you’re talking almost $1 difference,” Garrity told MetroNews.

Prices moved down quickly when the pandemic began with residents stay home to work and under various stay-at-home orders. The average price on April 16 in West Virginia was $1.81 a gallon.

Garrity said a few things have changed in recent weeks including the price of crude oil. It has rebounded to $33 a barrel. It had dropped to negative numbers earlier this year after starting 2020 at $60 a barrel. Crude oil prices make up most of the overall price of a gallon gas. Garrity said there’s also an increase in demand with more people going back to work and the economy reopening.

“As people kind of make their way out of quarantine and things start to ease up, we are seeing gas prices sort of on the rebound,” Garrity said.

AAA usually does a travel forecast for the Memorial Day holiday but not this year. Garrity said the data they usually use has been thrown off by the pandemic. However, he doesn’t believe many people will be traveling this weekend. He said that could change in the coming weeks.

“Should we see gas prices remain this low or even relatively close to this low, as we get into the summer, we could see a pretty healthy summer for road trips,” Garrity said.

He believes domestic travel will be the first sector to increase.

“With people taking road trips either to the beach, to the lake, to Florida, to the middle of the country. It could be a very good summer for people taking road trips,” Garrity said.

Garrity said the conventional wisdom is that gasoline prices will increase as the demand increases but he said they’ve learned during this pandemic that conventional wisdom doesn’t always hold up.

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