Gas prices in Akron and Canton have hit all-time highs, the American Automobile Association reported in its daily gas price survey.
Wednesday's $4.469 average price at Akron locations was 58% higher than the $2.834 a year ago, and 19% above the price one month ago. The average price in AAA’s Canton-Massillon survey area was $4.460.
Nationally, consumers were paying an average of $4.567 a gallon, also a record high.
The increased cost of fueling up a vehicle comes at a time when drivers are planning trips for Memorial Day, one of the most-traveled holidays of the year.
AAA estimates Memorial Day travel will increase 8.3% to 39.2 million people over last year, inching toward pre-pandemic levels as the nation continues to emerge out of the pandemic slump.
Kevin Thomas, regional president for the AAA Ohio Auto Club, said international, national and local events are putting pressure on gas prices and the squeeze on consumers.
U.S. and world demand remains high, with national and world economic growth staggering upward after the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The price of crude oil is well above $100 per barrel, with the Ukraine-Russia war adding to uncertainty for buyers.
Summer blends and U.S. crude oil production
In the U.S., crude production remains substantially lower than pre-pandemic levels. In February, the latest month reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the nation produced 316,728 barrels of crude, down 14.8% from February 2020.
Locally and regionally, refiners are moving to summer blends, said Thomas.
“Typically in the north this time of year, the refineries are switching,” he said. “That’s historical. It’s in the mix of what’s causing the [price] issues.”
Diesel prices, too, remain high. The national average reached an all-time high on Wednesday at $5.577 per gallon. In Akron, diesel prices are about four cents lower than the all-time price of $5.230 reached May 7. Combined, gas and diesel increases affect consumers at the pump and elsewhere, Thomas said.
“It impacts the cost to get your food to the grocery and impacts the price on the shelves,” he said. “It hits us at every level.”
Getting a break on gas prices
Thomas said consumers can take some actions to ease the blow to their wallets by planning carefully for their trips. Travelers might consider doing a vehicle check, for instance with basics like tires at the top of the list.
“Tire inflation has a lot to do with fuel performance,” he said.
Where and how gas is purchased can make a difference in the bottom line.
AAA members have access to a 3-cent-a-gallon savings at Shell stations, for instance, and some gasoline retailers offer discounts to repeat customers.
“BP offers a program you pay significantly less at the pump...” he said. “As a consumer, where do you buy it, what are the best options for you as a returning customer?”
Thomas said AAA is forecasting travel to remain high during the summer, although demand should decrease somewhat after Memorial Day weekend.
Long-term, the EIA forecasts that U.S. oil production will continue expanding compared to last year, although it won’t reach the 2020-peak until 2023.
According to GasBuddy.com, the lowest price in the Akron area was a Costco in Boston Heights at $4.16 a gallon and Wonder Market on East Market Street in Akron at $4.19.
AAA’s gas price survey is updated daily by Oil Price Information Service with average national, state and local prices for gasoline, diesel and E-85 included. Every day up to 120,000 stations are surveyed, according to AAA.
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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron Gas prices climbs to highest ever, reaching $4.469 a gallon