Holiday weekend could slow drop in gas pricesArea drivers are enjoying the lowest summer gas prices since 2005, but jumps in commodity prices could spark bumps at the pumps as the Fourth of July weekend approaches.
By: Dave Olson, INFORUM
Area drivers are enjoying the lowest summer gas prices since 2005, but jumps in commodity prices could spark bumps at the pumps as the Fourth of July weekend approaches.
“Although gas prices have gone down in the last week or so, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the commodities market. The fact prices are moving lower may not last long,” said Gene LaDoucer, a spokes-man for AAA North Dakota.
Prices at pumps around Fargo and Moorhead this week ranged from about $2.42 to $2.48 per gallon for regular unleaded, down about a dime from a week ago.
With commodity prices showing signs of rising, LaDoucer said prices at the pump could follow suit.
“Our market here tends to respond fairly quickly because we have one of the most competitive markets in the country,” said LaDoucer, adding that gas prices currently vary widely across North Dakota.
“Here in Fargo, we’re paying about $2.45 a gallon, whereas in Bismarck it’s $2.74. As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, I would expect Fargo’s (prices) might move higher and others might come down a little bit,” LaDoucer said.
Whatever the weekend brings, gas prices this summer are well below levels experienced in recent years.
Last summer, the statewide average in North Dakota for regular unleaded was $4.06 a gallon during the Fourth of July weekend, typically the busiest weekend of the year for family automobile travel.
“High gasoline prices kept a lot of people home or near home,” LaDoucer said of last year’s situation.
This year, it appears the uncertain economy will lead to fewer travelers, according to LaDoucer.
About 2.8 million people are expected to travel over the coming weekend in a region that includes North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, according to AAA projections.
That would be a drop of 3.1 percent from last summer, according to LaDoucer.
“People are still traveling, but they’re traveling more regional and they’re traveling for fewer days,” he said.
Instead of seven- to 10-day trips, journeys this summer are expected to be in the five- to six-day range, he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555