Gasoline prices eased some this week from record highs, but the outlook remains grim as crude oil prices rose Friday to more than $55 a barrel on supply worries.
AAA Arizona reported the statewide average is $2.378 per gallon, down a tad from the record of $2.38 a gallon set on Wednesday. The slight drop ended the 4 month period of steady increases at the pump.
"It’s too early to tell whether gasoline prices will not turn higher between now and the Memorial Day holiday weekend," AAA Arizona said in its weekly fuel report.
The national average of $2.22 per gallon is lower after reaching a record of $2.28 per gallon April 11.
In the East Valley, motorists are paying 2.386, down a smidge from a record 2.391 a gallon set Wednesday. In Scottsdale, drivers are paying $2.41 a gallon, a penny less than the record set on Saturday, April 16.
A new poll shows the pinch at the pump is taking a bite out of the wallet.
An Associated Press-AOL survey found that 51 percent of those surveyed say that if fuel prices remain high for the next six months it will cause a financial hardship for them.
Thirty percent of those polled classified the hit as "serious," according to the survey by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the AP and AOL News. The survey found that 58 percent of respondents have reduced their driving, 57 percent have cut back on other expenses and 41 percent have changed vacation plans to stay closer to home.
For Shirley Hall and her family, prices have gotten so bad they’ve decided to skip going to Arizona Diamondbacks games.
"It all boils down to gas prices," she wrote in an email. "To make up for the cost of gas, everyone has to cut somewhere and we picked the games as one method. We had so looked forward to the upcoming games but now we watch them on TV when they are on. Since we live in the East Valley by the Superstition (Springs) Mall, it is a distance to travel to the ballpark. Unless we get a smoking deal, we will have to stay home."
Arizona motorists are paying about 40 cents more a gallon or $6 more to fill up a 15-gallon tank than this time last year when gasoline cost an average of $1.99 a gallon, AAA said.
Analysts are hopeful that a recent drop in crude oil and retail gasoline prices have reached their peak this year and consumers can expect slightly lower prices for the rest of the spring and summer. AAA said consumers should assume gasoline prices will remain above $2 per gallon when planning their household spending over the next several months.
Oil prices rose more than $1 a barrel Friday as global supply concerns were stoked by a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia and refinery snags in the United States.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery jumped $1.19 to settle at $55.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gasoline futures climbed 3.23 cents to $1.653 per gallon, reflecting pre-summer supply worries amid a rash of refinery shutdowns, including a decision by Valero Energy Corp. to reduce output at its St. Charles refinery in order to perform maintenance. Heating oil futures rose 1.11 cent to $1.545 per gallon.
The poll of 1,000 adults was taken April 18-20 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.