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NEW YORK -- Convenience store operators who hope to make big money from travelers hitting the road over Labor Day weekend should temper their expectations. Motorist group AAA expects 31.5 million U.S. drivers to travel at least 50 miles away from their homes between Sept. 1 and Sept. 5, a decrease of 2.4 percent from the 32.3 million who drove that far over the 2010 holiday weekend, according to a CNNMoney report.
"AAA is projecting a decrease in the number of Labor Day travelers as some Americans react to recent economic uncertainty and increasing air fares," said Glen MacDonell, director of travel services.
A report produced in cooperation with HIS Global Insight noted that economic woes are weighing on consumer confidence, and that consumers' discretionary income has not increased enough to keep pace with rising travel costs.
However, c-store operators do have one reason to be optimistic; the number of U.S. drivers expected to travel by car rather than another means is expected to increase 0.5 percent from last year, up to 27.3 million. That number could rise if fuel prices, which have fallen approximately 10 percent since May, continue to drop.
"We could see an increase in last-minute holiday weekend travel," said MacDonell.
The report also noted that while Americans intend to remain closer to home this year, they'll spend about the same amount of money. The predicted median spending level is $702, up from $697 in 2010.