A drastically reduced Thanksgiving travel forecast, as well as uncertainty regarding the length of the current spike in the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to keep gas prices relatively stable, both locally and across the country.
Kansas gas prices have gone up nearly 2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.89 this week, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,329 stations. Gas prices in Kansas are 4.1 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 43.2 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.
As of Wednesday morning, the average price in Barton County stood at $2.00 per gallon, about 11 cents over the state average, and about 11 cents higher that most surrounding counties, which hovered close to the state average. Prices at Great Bend stations hovered ranged from $1.98 to $2.03 per gallon as of Wednesday.
According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Kansas on Wednesday was priced at $1.49 per gallon in Clearwater, while the most expensive this week was $2.30 per gallon, a difference of 81 cents. Kansas remained among the 10 lowest average statewide fuel prices in the country as of Wednesday.
The national average price of gasoline has risen 1.2 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.14 per gallon nationally as of Wednesday, which is down less than a cent per gallon from a month ago and stands 46 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.
Promising news on the COVID-19 front, though, offers a glimmer of hope for gas prices, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
“For the first time in seven weeks, GasBuddy data showed average gas prices rose last week, unsurprising given the previous 18% jump in the price of crude oil on promising vaccine news,” De Haan said. “We’re likely to see prices inch up slightly again this week as gas stations continue to try to pass along the rise from last week to retail, but ahead of Thanksgiving, prices should be mostly stable.”
However the Thanksgiving travel season will be notably different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DeHaan noted. GasBuddy’s 2020 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey finds only 35% of Americans are expected to take to the roads this year, a decrease from 65% from last year, amidst some of the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices the country has seen in years.
The national average gas price is projected to be $2.17 per gallon, lower this year as oil prices plunged from year ago levels amidst depressed demand for gasoline due to the coronavirus keeping Americans closer to home and away from their normal driving routines.
“Survey results show continued anxiety from motorists, even with the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in years,” DeHaan said, “highlighting the challenges we’re facing in this pandemic.”
Nearly half, 46%, of the survey’s respondents said that their travel plans are impacted by the coronavirus.
When asked in what ways they were impacted, 71% said they are staying home instead of traveling this year. Five percent said they are not celebrating Thanksgiving this year due to the coronavirus. The remainder are either celebrating Thanksgiving at a different location this year (20%), or driving instead of taking other forms of transportation to their Thanksgiving destination (11%).
However, DeHaan noted, the significantly lower gas prices are a significant motivator for those who will choose to travel.
Fifteen percent of those who said they are planning to travel said they are doing so to take advantage of gas prices, a significant jump compared to 6% of people saying the same last year and 2% in 2018.
Seventy-nine percent of people said that gas prices are not impacting their travel plans, though.
“Typically during the holidays, it’s all about traditions and less about the cost, even when gas prices were over $3, plenty of Americans didn’t hesitate to travel for Thanksgiving,” said DeHaan. “With Americans still concerned about traveling by plane, many families will take advantage of low prices and make a road trip when they otherwise wouldn’t.”
Those who are traveling are taking shorter trips than in years past, with survey results seeing a 75% increase in those who are traveling less than one hour to their Thanksgiving destination compared to 2019.
Historical gasoline prices in Kansas and the national average going back ten years:
Nov. 16, 2019: $2.33 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.61 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2018: $2.39 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.63 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2017: $2.40 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.56 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2016: $1.91 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.15 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2015: $2.00 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.15 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2014: $2.76 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.88 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2013: $2.93 per gallon (U.S. Average: $3.19 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2012: $3.19 per gallon (U.S. Average: $3.42 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2011: $3.24 per gallon (U.S. Average: $3.39 per gallon)
Nov. 16, 2010: $2.78 per gallon (U.S. Average: $2.87 per gallon)