The gap between what drivers are paying for gasoline compared with a year ago is widening and figures to get worse between now and the end of the year. Prices at the pump were $2.629 a gallon on Monday, 80.4 cents more a gallon than a year ago, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Services. That is about $40 more a month for a typical motorist.
The government releases its survey on retail prices late Monday. Gasoline prices bottomed near $1.61 during the last few days of 2008 as the recession took hold, demand for fuel crumbled and the stock markets tumbled. Consumers now are paying about $1 billion a day for gasoline, about $300 million more a day for gasoline than they did a year ago.
And in December, for the first time in about 10 years, oil prices are expected to be twice what they were a year ago, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for OPIS. Crude prices have been trading between $75 and $82 a barrel for the past month or so. Prices hit $33.87 a barrel on Dec. 19.
The rapid rise in prices is worse for consumers this time, however. Before prices doubled in early 2000, a barrel of crude cost about $10.
More consumers went shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, yet spent less than last year as they hunted for bargains on toys and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation.
Spending at stores and on Web sites from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 rose 0.5% to an estimated $41.2 billion from $41 billion a year earlier, the Washington-based trade group said Nov. 29, citing a survey conducted by polling firm BIGresearch. The higher turnout and lower average spending were in line with expectations, the NRF said. The group is sticking to a forecast for a 1% drop in spending this holiday season.