Gas prices could rise 50¢ a gallon before Memorial Day

FILE - In this July 16, 2015, photo, a customer refuels her car at a Costco in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Hold onto your wallets. Gas prices are poised to spike between now and Memorial Day. It’s a trend we saw last year, but what makes it even more painful is what may follow this summer.

First, let’s rewind to February 2016 when gas in South Carolina was just $1.52 a gallon. Today (February 2017) it’s 50 cents higher, and if it follows the same trend it did last year AAA predicts it may increase another 50 cents within the next 3 months.

“In 2016 between February and May we saw an increase in gas prices of about 57 cents, so we have about the same amount of oil production in the United States as we did in 2016, so there’s no reason not to believe that we are going to have a similar increase this year,” said Nikki Puckhaber, with AAA of the Carolinas.

That’s a blow to drivers like John Gambino who will have to pay an extra 10 dollars every time he fills up his 21-gallon tank.

“Definitely no fun, not excited,” he said.

By the summer a gas tax increase could also affect your wallet. Lawmakers are looking to raise the tax between eight to 12 cents per gallon. It would phase-in beginning in June.

But what’s fueling the predicted price hike nationwide is a combination of the switch to the more costly summer blend, and a projected spike in demand.

“I drive an hour to school every day so it’s going to hurt my budget,” said Jessica Richardson.

“Not very happy about that, I’m a realtor so I do a lot of driving so that would make a huge difference,” said Chris Sauls.

And unlike last summer, where prices held flat, AAA says the gas price hike will likely continue during through August. AAA did a recent study that found more people than ever plan to travel this summer by car, so the demand will only increase.

Which means if people like Gambino, who travel more than 50,000 miles a year, don’t curb their driving, then their wallets will feel a little lighter by the fall.

We should note, South Carolina still has among the lowest gas in the nation. Other cities may see gas hit three dollars a gallon by the spring.

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