- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Retail gasoline prices headed downward to begin one of the country’s busiest travel weeks, with more than 33 million people expected to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Americans are remaining closer to home because of anxiety about the economy and demand for gasoline is weaker now than it was last year at this time.

That is telling because a gallon of gasoline then cost only $1.93 as the economic crisis unfolded in 2008.

Unlike last year, however, gas is not falling sharply and though prices fell overnight, it still cost $2.64 per gallon on average nationally and in the Washington area, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service (OPIS).

Gasoline cost just $1.97 a gallon in the Washington metropolitan area a year ago, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“I think we will see some increases in the spring, like we always do,” said Fred Rozell, retail pricing director at OPIS. “But at this point I think we’re going to kind of see a status quo for a while.”

Crude prices have remained relatively strong, which has helped keep gas prices well above $2.50.

A survey by the AAA over the weekend found that the number of Americans traveling away from home for Thanksgiving will be up just 2.1 percent this year from 2008.

Crude prices have dragged retail gasoline prices higher throughout the year and rose by 9 cents per barrel on Monday.

Benchmark crude for December delivery settled at $77.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the release of some surprising housing numbers.

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