WILKES-BARRE — AAA Mid-Atlantic said Tuesday gas prices are at their highest point for the Independence Day holiday in four years.
Overnight, prices rose 10 to 12 cents at the pumps to an average of $3.05 per gallon — still less than the $3.13 per gallon on Memorial Day.
Customers, no doubt, have noticed.
“I normally go to Sam’s Club because they have competitive gas prices,” said Claudia Vitiello, of Mountain Top, on Tuesday. “But they aren’t so competitive today, they raised the price by about 12 cents.”
Vitiello, who owns a bakery, was headed with her truck to Montrose for a craft fair and couldn’t wait to get gas.
“A lot of times gas prices go up because of the holidays,” she observed. “Gas prices were already high but I think they are probably taking advantage of the holiday as well.”
Derek McManus, also of Mountain Top, agreed.
“Gas prices have been high already, and the gas stations know it,” McManus said. “I’m not surprised that companies are price gouging because of the holiday.”
In recent years, average gas prices have been significantly lower for the July 4 holiday, with the exception of 2014, according to AAA:
• July 4, 2017 — $2.41
• July 4, 2016 — $2.37
• July 4, 2015 — $2.80
• July 4, 2014 — $3.69
Kathleen Miller, of AAA Mid-Atlantic, said motorists may see prices go even higher in the coming months.
Retail gasoline prices can vary significantly within the United States because of regional supply-and-demand balances, gasoline specification requirements and taxes, Miller said.
Phil Pisano, who owns a Sunoco station on South Main Street, can’t believe the high prices that his competitors are displaying. He was still selling regular unleaded for just under $3 a gallon — $2.99 to be exact.
“I look every day how much gas goes up,” Pisano said. “It did go up about five cents but there should be no reason why other gas stations have jacked the price up as much as 15 cents.”
“That’s criminal,” Pisano added.
Pisano and his family have owned the station for 60 years.
“We’ve been really busy the past few days. No one has complained about my prices,” Pisano mentioned. “The customers aren’t dumb. They know when they see unfair prices. I would never do that.”
Record July 4 travel
According to just-released data from AAA, an estimated 46.9 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate the Fourth of July, a 5 percent increase from last year.
Miller said Fourth of July travel will reach a record high this year, marking the most travelers for this period since AAA began its tracking 18 years ago.
AAA Mid-Atlantic projects more than 58,000 Wilkes-Barre-area residents plan to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday. The number represents a more than 5 percent increase over last year’s forecast. The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3, to Sunday, July 8.
• The vast majority of Wilkes-Barre area travelers — 49,213 — will hit the road this Independence Day — 4.7 percent more than last year.
• A record-breaking 4,868 people will travel by air — a 9.9 percent increase locally and the ninth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.