Gas prices have fallen for three consecutive weeks, providing a small measure of relief for motorists hammered by a record price surge during this year’s inflation crisis.
The national average price of gas sank to $4.779 on Wednesday, marking the 22nd straight day of declines, according to AAA data.
The streak marked the longest consecutive string of price declines since April 2020, when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic strangled demand at the pump.
“For the time being, Americans are spending nearly $100 million per day less on gasoline than when prices peaked a few weeks ago, and that’s well-needed relief at a time when gas prices remain near records,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
The national average had hit an all-time high of $5.016 per gallon on June 14.
The relief in gas prices has occurred as oil prices plunge on mounting fears among traders that the US economy is on the brink of a recession. Oil prices are a key input for gas prices that are later passed on to consumers.
Both the US benchmark, the West Texas Intermediate crude oil index, and the global benchmark, the Brent Crude oil index, were trading near $100 per barrel – well below their recent highs.
Meanwhile, gas demand was sitting at 8.93 million barrels per day as of Tuesday, below the level of demand during the same period one year ago.
“These supply/demand dynamics, along with decreasing oil prices, have pushed pump prices lower,” AAA said in a blog post on the trend. “If these trends continue, drivers will likely continue to see relief at the pump.”
Even with recent declines, gas prices are still hovering at historically high levels as the Russia-Ukraine war and supply chain shocks ripple through the global energy market. The cost per gallon is nearly two bucks higher than it was last year, when the national average was $3.134.
The positive trends for motorists may not last long. Relief at the pump is unlikely to continue in July, which is considered the peak of the summer travel season, according to AAA.
“Domestic gasoline demand dipped recently, which took some of the pressure off of pump prices. About 80% of stations are now selling regular for under $5 a gallon,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said.
“But July is typically the heaviest month for demand as more Americans hit the road, so this trend of easing prices could be short-lived,” Gross added.
President Biden has faced immense pressure to take actions that will bring sustained lower prices at the pump.
The president drew sharp criticism over the weekend after he blamed high costs on gas station companies and demanded they lower prices.
“Ouch. Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this,” Bezos said. “It’s either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.”