(The Center Square) – Thanksgiving travel is forecast as robust as ever for the last quarter century and North Carolina’s gas prices, despite one of the nation’s highest fuel taxes, will be among the best.
The American Automobile Association said Monday a 2.3% increase is expected in holiday travel, with more than 55 million traveling more than 50 miles from home. It would be the third-highest volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, and most since 2019.
A travel survey released Tuesday morning by GasBuddy, a fuel price app and website, said only 19% would choose “not to travel this year because inflation made fitting travel into their budget difficult.” Most plan to travel on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.
“More Americans are planning on hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday this year, and it’s no wonder why,” said Patrick De Haan in a news release. He’s head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Average gas prices have plummeted in all 50 states in the weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, with $2.99 prices spreading like wildfire just in time for the start of the holiday season. Drivers will be saving over half a billion dollars from Wednesday through Sunday compared to what they spent last Thanksgiving with the national average at its lowest since January.”
Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in Monday’s release, “Travel demand has been strong all year, and AAA’s Thanksgiving forecast reflects that continued desire to get away and spend time with loved ones.”
On Tuesday, North Carolina’s lowest gas prices were reported on GasBuddy in North Wilkesboro. There, a gallon of unleaded regular was $2.65.
Metro areas hovered near $3. Fayetteville was at $2.95. Raleigh ($3.00), Greensboro and Charlotte ($3.03), and Winston-Salem ($3.06) were not much higher.
AAA pegged the state’s average gallon of unleaded priced at $3.06 on Tuesday, which is well below the national average of $3.35. That’s 14th-best among all states and the District of Columbia. Diesel is at $4.13, and that’s 15th-best.
A month ago, the average price of unleaded was $3.28, and a year ago it was $3.39. A majority of the eastern and southeastern part of the state were at $3.08 or less, with the main exception the Outer Banks.
North Carolina this year taxes gasoline at 40.5 cents per gallon, up 2 cents from last year and the fifth-highest in the country. According to IGEN, which analyzes trends of heavily regulated markets, states higher are Pennsylvania (57.6 cents) California (51.1), Washington (49.4) and New Jersey (42.3).
GasBuddy’s survey was taken Nov. 2-6, defining the travel period as Monday through Sunday around Thanksgiving. There were 6,359 respondents, and no margin of error was provided.