Analysts are saying that it will soon cost nearly 10% more to fill up your gas tank. And wouldn’t you know it: The predicted spike in gas prices will coincide with the vacations of millions of Americans.
The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline, which has been hovering around $3.50, is expected to spike by 25¢ to 30¢ over the next few weeks, according to analysts cited by CNN Money and NBC News.
Wholesale prices of oil have surged over the past month, and these increases are inevitably passed along to consumers in the form of steeper prices at the pump. There’s some indication the price hikes have already begun, and it’s anticipated that per-gallon rates will keep rising by 1¢ or 2¢ daily, perhaps more.
“Short-term, we’re going to see the average go into the $3.60, $3.70 range,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com. “You’re looking at some markets that were closer to $3 a gallon, like the upper Great Lakes, and they’re going to go back up and be closer to $4.”
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According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, one year ago at this time, the national average was $3.38 per gallon, 14¢ less than the average as of Thursday of this week. If prices rise in July and August as experts anticipate, it’ll basically be a repeat of 2012, when prices dipped in early summer before soaring from mid-summer on. During one week in early August of last year, the national average rose from $3.53 to $3.66, apparently due to inclement weather and refinery issues.
Let’s at least hope this September doesn’t follow the pattern set last year. Prices at the pump were expected to decline once Labor Day had passed, and yet the opposite happened, with the national average topping $3.80 toward the end of September of last year. The 2012 end-of-summer surge, combined with previous pricing spasms, made it the most expensive year ever for gasoline.
Earlier this year, most analysts forecast that 2013 wouldn’t beat out 2012 for that dubious title. And yet thus far gas prices in 2013 have proven to be exceptionally volatile and unpredictable. So perhaps it’s time to cross your fingers, and hope that the latest prediction — that gas prices will increase sharply now and into August — winds up being wrong.