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ORLANDO, Fla. — A record 98.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes during the year-end holiday season, AAA reported. The holiday period is defined as Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.
The 98.6-million figure is a 4-percent increase compared to the same period in 2013 and represents the largest number of travelers since AAA began tracking this data in 2001.
Especially good news for convenience store retailers is that nearly 91 percent (89.5 million) will take a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent vs. 2013.
Consumers should also have more money to spend on in-store merchandise, as the national average price of gasoline dipped to $2.55 on Tuesday, 69 cents cheaper than on the same date in 2013. According to AAA, gas prices have fallen for 81 days in a row, helping to increase Americans' disposable income by 3.5 percent from year-ago levels. This is having a positive effect on travel.
"Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA's president and chief operating officer. "Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year."