As predicted last week, Florida’s gasoline prices may have hit bottom and begun heading back up in the past week, as the reopening economy has sent more people out onto the roads.
Prices in Florida began inching upward for the first time in 10 weeks, notching a 1-cent increase by Sunday compared with the year’s low set the previous week. On Sunday the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Florida was $1.77, according to AAA — The Auto Club Group, in its weekly report.
After inching upward last week from a four-year low caused by coronavirus-fueled economic shutdown, the price still is 5 cents lower than last month and 89 cents lower than the average price of gasoline in Florida a year ago.
AAA reports that the demand for gasoline is about 30% lower than a year ago, compared with a 50-75% deficit seen just weeks ago during the height of Florida’s stay-at-home orders.
“Small increases at the pump will become a more common sight in the coming weeks, as Floridians hit the road to visit businesses and beaches,” Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA — The Auto Club Group, wrote in a news release Monday. “The increased demand has cut into excess supplies, which restores upward pressure on prices at the pump.”
According to the Econimist Intelligence Unit, American gasoline demand has climbed 40% in the past five weeks. Although U.S. gasoline production increased 11% last week, supplies declined 4 % over the past three weeks.
Growing fuel demand has restored optimism in the crude oil market, AAA reported. The price for U.S. oil hit a nine-week high Friday — settling at $29.43 per barrel. Friday’s closing price was nearly 20% higher than the week before. Wholesale gasoline prices also jumped 6 cents per gallon during the past week.
In Florida, the lowest gasoline prices were seen in Jacksonville and Pensacola, where a gallon averaged $1.70 Sunday; and Punta Gorda, where it sold for $1.71.
The most expensive gasoline in Florida was seen in the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton Market, costing $1.93; Gainesville, $1.92; and Fort Lauderdale, $1.87.