Price predictions for Memorial Day Weekend 2024

We looked at the last three years and factored in today's market conditions to estimate fuel and grocery prices for Memorial Day 2024.

May 13, 2024
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Price predictions for Memorial Day Weekend 2024
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Price predictions for Memorial Day Weekend 2024

Summer driving season is upon us, and it’s shaping up to be a busy one. AAA estimates that 38.4 people will travel by car over Memorial Day Weekend, the highest number for the holiday since the company began tracking in 2000. Naturally, everyone wants to know what to expect when they hit the pump to fill up their tank. We took a look at the last three years, then factored in today's inflation rate and market conditions, to come up with predictions for MDW 2024. Read on to see our projections. 

Predictions for grocery prices

The average trip to the grocery store will cost slightly more this year, but not by much. 

We predict that the average Memorial Day grocery trip this year will cost $50.21. That figure reflects the 1.2% increase in grocery prices reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics over the past year (as of early May 2024).  

How did we get there? 

In 2023, Upside data showed that the average trip to the grocery store cost $49.87. When we compare that price to the average trip for Memorial Day (starting the prior Tuesday until the holiday itself), we see a similar number; the average MDW shop cost $49.61. Holiday shops actually came in a bit cheaper, but the difference is less than 1%.

Inflation-driven price increases in grocery have been relatively minimal this year, compared to those at restaurants. But that’s not to say that prices have been totally steady. Those increases are often necessary for the retailer to continue doing business — they’re just as concerned about inflation as consumers are. 

Regardless, price increases have fundamentally changed the way the average customer does their grocery shopping. We’re seeing that consumers now visit up to five different banners per month in order to find value and stretch their budget; some shoppers even express a willingness to travel more than 10 miles if the value was right.

Predictions for fuel prices

Drivers are always curious about what they can expect to pay at the pump, and finding value when they can get it. In an industry like fuel, where the prices change every day and global events can immediately move the market in a totally new direction, all predictions have to come with a qualifier. But we can use what we know about past year’s cycles and the trends of 2024 to make some educated guesses about prices for the holiday.

Let’s take a look at the average cost of a gallon of regular gas sold over Memorial Day Weekend:  

  • 2020: $1.85 per gallon
  • 2021: $2.92 per gallon
  • 2022: $4.51 per gallon
  • 2023: $3.49 per gallon

You can see the prices look very different year-to-year. In 2020, demand dried up during the pandemic; in 2022, prices skyrocketed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine snarled the fuel supply chain. Last year, the price of a regular gallon cost $3.49, and we expect something similar this year.

As of May 5th, 2024, fuel prices were only about 1.5% higher than they were during the same period in 2023. If this trend continues through the end of the month, we predict that the average national fuel price for Memorial Day Weekend 2024 will be $3.54 per gallon

This price reflects a slightly lower value than what we’re seeing at the time of publication in early May. That’s because we expect sign prices to normalize a bit following the annual switch to the more expensive “summer blend” of gasoline. Additionally, we expect a moderation of demand as the economy cools. 

Of course, this prediction assumes that no global event will cause a major shock to oil markets. Should markets hold steady, we are likely past the summer peak in the price of gasoline — and that’s good news for Memorial Day travelers.

No matter where people are headed for MDW, we know value is important at the pump and in-store and the preferred way to get it is with cash back. Upside’s a win-win for customers and for retailers, so don’t forget to check it out while you’re on your way.

Price predictions for Memorial Day Weekend 2024

Dr. Thomas Weinandy

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Dr. Weinandy is a Research Economist at Upside, providing valuable insights into consumer spending behavior and macroeconomic trends for the fuel, grocery, and restaurant industries. With a Ph.D. in Applied Economics, his academic research is in digital economics and brick-and-mortar retail. He is currently writing a book on leveraging AI for business intelligence.

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