Thanksgiving road travel is on the rise, while gas prices keep falling
With drivers feeling some relief at the gas pumps ahead of Thanksgiving, holiday road travel is expected to increase over the extended weekend.
Patrick De Haan, a fuel cost analyst for Gas Buddy, says the Peoria market’s current average of $3.39 per gallon of unleaded is about 60 cents lower than a year ago. In Bloomington-Normal, the $3.38 average is around 30 cents less than last year.
“We’ve seen gas prices falling nationally now for nine straight weeks. It's the longest streak of falling prices since the summer of 2022,” De Haan said. “So as millions of Americans get ready to hit the road for Thanksgiving, we've been greeted with falling prices.”
De Haan says that although the lower gas prices aren’t the primary reason, more people say they will be traveling this weekend.
“According to our Thanksgiving travel survey, we're expecting more travelers this year than last year: 41% of respondents to our survey said that they plan to hit the road this year for Thanksgiving. That's an 8% rise from last year,” De Haan said.
“It's also the most amount of people that are planning to hit the road since 2019 when a whopping 65% of respondents said that they're going to be hitting the road," he said. "So certainly a lot more folks on the road this holiday, although it still pales in comparison prior to COVID.”
De Haan says 11 states now have a per-gallon average below $3, with the national average just below $3.30. The statewide figure in Illinois is at about $3.46, but De Haan says there are a handful of stations selling for less than $3.
De Haan says seasonally lower demand and the transition to winter gasoline blends have contributed to the declining prices, coupled with dropping oil prices over the last month. But he adds that OPEC may decide to reduce production as soon as this week.
“If they don't act, if they keep production consistent, we could see prices in Peoria and much of Illinois continuing to drift lower – maybe a drop of another 5-15 cents a gallon by Christmas,” De Haan said. “But if OPEC does cut oil production, well, we could see prices bottom out in the mid $3 territory, and then they may stay there for the next couple of months.”