By the time morning commute rolls around Monday, or maybe even before, the average price of self-serve unleaded gasoline could be $3 a gallon or more.
Prices in the East Valley went up 4 cents overnight Thursday to settle at nearly $2.90 a gallon. At that rate, $3 will here just in time for the work week.
“Based on what we’ve been seeing, $3 is certainly going to happen,” said Christina Estes, AAA Arizona spokeswoman.
“I would be shocked if we didn’t at some point see an average of $3 a gallon. It would be great news (if we don’t hit $3 a gallon). We could all celebrate, but it certainly looks like we’re heading that way. It’s just a matter of when, whether it’s next week or next month.”
Scottsdale will likely hit $3 before the rest of the East Valley. On Friday the average was nearly $2.92 per gallon, nearly 3 cents a gallon higher than Thursday.
Arizona’s average is $2.89 a gallon.
The federal government has said it doesn’t expect the $3 gallon price to last more than month.
“We were saying a week or so ago we expected prices to go up another 20 cents,” Estes said. “We didn’t expect prices to go up quite this fast, but there’s no indication they’re going to be dropping in the immediate future, meaning the next few days.”
She’s hopeful prices will peak no later than Memorial Day and then stabilize over the summer.
The demand for gasoline is slowing a bit, Estes said. So far this year, demand is up less than 1 percent. Last year the increase was 1.4 percent.
In March, AAA conducted a survey of people who were planning to take a driving vacation between mid-March and mid-September. It found 71 percent of vacation planners said they would consider taking fewer trips if gas became too expensive.
“For a lot of folks, it’s becoming too expensive,” Estes said. The average national price at the time the survey was taken was $2.35 a gallon.
Sixty-eight percent of those planning a driving vacation said they would would consider reducing the number of trips if prices rose 50 cents per gallon.
“That would put us at $2.85 a gallon and we’re obviously beyond that,” Estes said