Gasoline prices in the US are now at their lowest level since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, sending prices soaring.

But at $3.61, it’s still the highest price ever recorded by AAA for Thanksgiving week.

Blame inflation.

“The national average has fallen sharply from the June peak of nearly $5.02,” AAA spokesman Andrew Gross said in a statement. “But this Thanksgiving it will be about 20 cents higher than a year ago, and a dollar more per gallon than a pre-pandemic 2019.”

«However, we can be thankful that gasoline prices are moving in the right direction for now,» he said.

There continues to be wide geographic variability in gasoline prices, with averages in the southern states well below the national rate. In particular, the price of gasoline in Texas has dropped from $3 to an average of $2.95, while prices in the Northeast remain elevated due to import and supply restrictions.

But increased supplies overall and relatively fewer drivers have pushed pump prices down, AAA said. As demand remains subdued and gasoline stocks grow, drivers are likely to see pump prices drop over the Thanksgiving holiday, he said.

AAA predicts that 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of 1.5% over 2021, though slightly below pre-pandemic volumes. While Thanksgiving road trips are up 0.4% from 2021, car trips remain 2.5% below 2019 levels, he said.

Still, this year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA began tracking in 2000, the group said.

“Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement. “If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times. during the holiday rush.»