With prices in many areas of the country well over $3 per gallon, gas prices are a topic we’ve heard a lot of complaining about recently. There’s absolutely no denying the fact that prices have been on the rise. One has to look no further than Monday’s Retail Sales report for June which showed that sales at gas stations rose for their record 11th straight month. While sales at Gas Stations have risen for nearly a year straight, no other category, not even online, has seen more than five consecutive months of sales gains.
So will sales at Gas Stations see the current streak of sales gains reach a full year? Based on seasonal trends, it’s going to be tough. The chart below compares the changes in gas prices so far this year to the average “intra-year” pattern going back to 2005. So far in 2018, the pattern of prices has been tracking the average pretty closely, and if that continues to be the case, it would suggest that prices would continue to drift lower or in a sideways range for the rest of the summer, and then steadily slump from Labor Day through year-end.
Another way to look at gas prices this year is to compare current levels and the YTD change to where prices were in prior years. As of Monday, the national average price of a gallon of gas was $2.87. While that is higher than where prices were on 7/16 in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the average price of a gallon of gas on 7/16 since 2005 is just over $3, and the median is $2.96. Finally, in terms of the YTD change, this year’s increase of 15.4% is more than four percentage points below the average and median change for all years since 2005.