This upcoming weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer season, and with that Americans will start hitting the roads more frequently to go to the beach, start a vacation, or just barbecue with friends. As the summer driving season approaches, we wanted to provide a quick update on where gas prices currently stand relative to prior years at this time. Through today, the average national price of a gallon of gasoline sits at $2.36, which is up 1.1% YTD. That’s great news for US consumers because in terms of both price level and price change, gas prices are below average. For starters, let’s look at the current level of prices. Since 2005, there have only been two other years (2005 and 2016) where gas prices were lower heading into Memorial Day weekend. What’s even more notable, though, is the YTD change in gas prices. With just a 1.1% gain, it is the smallest YTD change in gas prices since 2005 and one of only two years where the YTD change was up less than 10%.
The chart below shows the subdued level of gas prices this year compared to prior years. In it, we show the YTD change in the national average price compared to a composite of the average YTD change in gas prices for all years since 2005. Here you can see the wide disparity between an average year and 2017. Even more important is that the 1.1% YTD gain we have seen this year came during the time of year when prices are normally the strongest. So if this is the best gas prices could do, what do they have in store in the second half when prices are typically seasonally weak.
Like what you see? Start a 14-day free trial to Bespoke’s premium research for instant access to our entire suite of offerings.
Finally, the fact that gas prices have essentially stopped rising this year has really caused the y/y change in prices to dramatically slow down. After spiking up to a peak of over 34% earlier this year, the y/y change has slowed to just 3.46% as the base effects of low prices from early 2016 have been worn off.