AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION
Actual Travel Forecast for Memorial Day Holiday, 2011
AAA and IHS Global Insight project 34.9 million travelers will journey at least 50 miles from home this upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. This represents an increase of 0.2 percent relative to the 34.8 million trips that occurred over the holiday period in 2010.
The economic factors contributing to the travel outlook for Memorial Day 2011 are, in general, consistently positive in comparison to spring of 2010. Real gross domestic product is up over 2.7 percent, while the unemployment rate has fallen a full percentage point from the same time in 2010. The improving economy and rising employment picture has resulted in a 1.9 percent increase in real disposable income and a 5.2 percent increase in real household net worth, which comes despite continued weakness in the housing market.
Taken as a whole, that economic improvement might normally be expected to result in a much stronger increase in expected holiday travel in comparison to last year. However, the significant spike in gas prices that has occurred over the past six months will impact holiday travel decisions. The national average price for regular gasoline for April 2011 was 33 percent higher than for April 2010. Some areas of the country are experiencing average prices topping $4 a gallon, a level not seen since the summer of 2008. The 2008 gas price spike, combined with an economy that was beginning to struggle, resulted in a 10% decline in holiday travel from the previous year.
Considering the other positive economic factors, the expectation is that the effect of rising gas prices will counteract any benefit from a slow but steadily improving outlook. That is supported by the expectations of travelers for this holiday, who see fuel costs taking up a higher percentage of their expected holiday spend, although when asked specifically if rising gas prices will impact their plans to travel this year, more than half said it will not negatively impact them.
About the American Automobile Association
“A not-for-profit, fully tax-paying organization with more than 50 million members, AAA is well respected for its credibility and integrity. Known primarily for providing emergency road service, maps and travel publications, AAA also has a broad range of travel services, member-benefit programs and public service activities.”