AAA: Pump prices in Carolinas continue to spike amid the new year

Published 7:56 am Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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The new year has started, but gas prices in the Carolinas are trending more expensive on the week, although they are still off to their lowest start to a new year since 2019. Pump price stability at the end of the year is credited to consistent crude oil prices in late December, combined with low demand.

“There was a significant cutback with holiday road travel down by a good amount,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “With fewer people on the roads we saw little changes, if any, at the pump – but now that’s not the case.”

North Carolina’s current gas price average sits at $2.11, seeing a 6-cent increase on the week. This is 12 cents more expensive than a month ago, but 36 cents cheaper than a year ago. South Carolina’s current gas price average sits at $2.01, seeing a 2-cent increase on the week. This is 9 cents more expensive than a month ago, but 35 cents cheaper than a year ago. South Carolina also made the nation’s top 10 least expensive markets.

The national gas price average remains unchanged, holding steady at $2.25 for the last 12 days – and while this is 9 cents more than last month, January gas prices are already 33 cents cheaper than this time last year. AAA expects demand to lessen in the coming weeks and gas prices to likely be cheaper, especially if crude oil holds at the current price point.

U.S. gasoline demand, as recorded by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), was at the lowest level for the last week of December in 23 years (since 1998) – at 8.1 million b/d. How high or low gas prices will go in 2021 will largely depend on crude oil prices, supply and demand. AAA expects that as the vaccine becomes more widely available and states loosen travel restrictions, Americans will begin to drive more and at that point we will see an impact at the pump.

Crude prices increased last week due to a weak dollar and rising market optimism that coronavirus vaccines will help crude oil demand recover in 2021. However, as coronavirus infection rates continue to climb and travel restrictions increase, crude prices will likely be capped this week.

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Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at