AAA: Expect higher year-end gas prices

WARREN — Year-end gas prices are expected to be the most expensive they’ve been the past several years, national auto club AAA reported.

And despite forecasted drops for the next few weeks, motorists should prepare to see higher-than-expected gas prices in December — especially compared to year-end prices from 2015 and 2016, said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

“Driving factors for cheaper gas prices this winter include colder temperatures, the threat of inclement weather and online shopping,” Casselano explained.

While AAA expects gas prices to decline — anywhere from 5 cents to 20 cents — between now and the end of the year, motorists can expect to still pay the highest November and December gas prices since 2014.

Locally, gas prices have been gradually trending down since last week.

On Monday, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in the Warren-Youngstown area $2.41, down 7 cents from the same day last week when it was $2.48 per gallon. That compares to $2.39 a month ago and $2.01 the same time last year.

Statewide Monday the average price was $2.42 per gallon, about 12 cents cheaper from the $2.54 it cost the same day a week ago. That compares to $2.47 last month and $2.03 this week in 2016.

On Monday, motorists were able to find gas for $2.50 or less at 63 percent of gas stations nationwide. The nation’s average gas price, trending down the previous 10 days, was $2.51 Monday. It was $2.54 the prior Monday, $2.47 the same day last month and $2.13 last year at this time.

Historically, year-end gas prices tend to be relatively cheap due to a drop-off in fall gasoline demand around Labor Day and the move to cheaper-to-produce winter-blend gasoline in mid-September, AAA leaders said.

But this year’s gas prices have strayed from typical trends as the typical factors that drive gas prices down in winter were outweighed by the impact of two major hurricanes, steady consumer demand and continued growth in gasoline exports.