With gas prices appearing to have peaked, motorists around the country – including in California – are finally expected to get some relief at the pump ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, experts said.
The anticipated decline will come as gasoline prices saw the largest seasonal rise nationally in about eight years, according to GasBuddy.
“We’re cautiously optimistic now that the worst is behind us and relief is on the horizon for nearly every area in the country," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for the fuel pricing website. "Motorists shouldn’t get too impatient – this won’t happen overnight – but as stations begin to fill their tanks with slightly cheaper gasoline, they’ll begin to pass the savings on, just in time for Memorial Day and beyond.”
There are already signs that prices are on the decline after spiking this spring. On Monday, the national average dropped slightly to $2.86, down 3 cents last week.
While the decrease may not seem like much, it's the first time in roughly three months that prices at the pump have showed any consistent signs of declining, according to AAA.
Even California – where gas prices lately have been the most expensive in the country – is expected to get a much needed-break.
In fact, as DeHaan noted over the weekend, fuel costs are already going down around the Golden State.
A gallon of regular unleaded dropped about 5 cents in Los Angeles County and Orange County over the past week, to $4.07 and $4.04 respectively. Prices are also down in San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties, but all remained above $4.
Overall, California still has the nation's highest gas prices, with the average at $4.07 for a gallon of 87-octane gasoline as of Monday.
Still, GasBuddy said it predicts in the weeks ahead that the cost will likely drop below $4 for the first time since mid-April, and "hopefully" will not return above $4 for the rest of the summer.
While AAA also expressed optimism, the association was quick to warn that myriad factors could bring gas prices up again, such as the impact of Chinese tariffs, weather, an increase in demand and the usually busy Memorial Day weekend travel.
And California drivers will have something else to contend with once summer starts: another spike in the state's gasoline tax. On July 1, the tax will rise 5.6 cents.