While the economy may be bouncing back, Thanksgiving travel is not, according to a GasBuddy study.
GasBuddy, a North American online fuel price platform, revealed in its 2021 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey that 32 percent of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year, a decline from 35 percent last year.
In 2019, pre-pandemic, 65 percent of those who participated in the study planned to hit the road for Thanksgiving 2019.
So why such a big decline?
Over half of Americans cite high gas prices for tapping the brakes on travel, according to the study.
The national average price of gasoline is projected to decline to $3.35 per gallon on Thanksgiving Day, still amongst the highest we’ve seen in over seven years, GasBuddy said. But there remains a remote chance that should oil suddenly surge, gas prices could quickly follow and potentially beat 2012’s record for most expensive national average ever for the date: $3.44 per gallon.
As of Thursday morning, a week before the holiday, the price of gasoline at Shelbyville stations was $3.36.
“Similarly to last year, motorists are contending with a rise in Covid cases ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday when many drive to celebrate with friends and family,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Only this year, we’re also just cents away from the highest Thanksgiving gas prices ever recorded. With global oil demand surging this year as the pandemic has eased, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory – some of the highest Thanksgiving gas prices on record. Americans are responding to the prices by slamming the car door shut and staying off the road.”
TSN asked Facebook users what their Thanksgiving plans were. Some said they plan to travel, and some said they plan to stay in town.
Facebook user Jean Stevenson Reynolds said: “We are having 15 to 20 guest. Daughter-in-law doing most of cooking. Turkey ‘n ham. Yum.”
A couple others said they had plans to travel to nearby places like Columbus, and one said they didn’t have plans at all.
“Who’s got the money? Inflation is ridiculous and you have to be vaccinated,” said user Nena Shelton, reflecting the claims of those who participated in the study.
Seventy-five percent of Americans also say that Covid-19 has had no impact on their holiday plans this year, up substantially from last year’s 46 percent, according to the study. Yet, even less are traveling this year than in 2020. Fifty percent of Americans say they are driving less overall this year, and when asked what it would take for them to drive more, an overwhelming 78 percent said lower gas prices.
Those who are traveling are opting for shorter trips, with most (13 percent) expecting to spend 1-3 hours in the car. When it comes to making a rest stop, decent gas prices remained of most importance to those selecting, though location and convenience rose above the rest stop’s cleanliness in 2021’s results.