August 27, 2015|
Over 35 Million Traveling for Labor Day Holiday, Highest Travel Volume Since 2008
OMAHA, NE, (August 27, 2015) – AAA Travel projects 35.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a one percent increase over 2014. This will mark the fourth consecutive year of overall travel growth for the Labor Day holiday period.
“The summer travel season is almost over and many kids are back in school, but an extended weekend and positive economic fundamentals should be enough to convince millions of Americans to take one more trip during Labor Day weekend,” said Brent Stahlheber, Sr. Vice President - Brand Marketing and Travel, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “Historically, more Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel when Labor Day weekend begins in August. Although this year’s holiday begins in September, AAA still expects more Labor Day travelers than last year, primarily due to low gas prices, solid income gains, rising household net worth, and an improving housing market.”
- The holiday period is defined as Thursday, September 3 to Monday, September 7.
- The 2015 forecast of 35.5 million American travelers will mark the highest Labor Day holiday travel volume since 2008.
- This would be the fourth consecutive year travel volume has grown for this holiday.
- Gas prices for this holiday should be the lowest for the Labor Day holiday period in a decade.
- Rising wages and falling gas prices have helped boost disposable income, which is expected to increase 3.5 percent compared to last year, but cautious consumers are using some of that money to save and pay debt.
- 85.8 percent of travelers will drive. Automobile travel will increase by 1.1 percent this year, with 30.4 million travelers hitting the road.
- 7.4 percent of travelers (2.64 million) will fly – a one percent increase from last year.
- 6.8 percent of travelers (2.42 million) will go by other modes of transportation including train, bus or cruise ship.
- Lodging costs are projected to be up ten percent for Two Diamond AAA rated hotels and up two percent for Three Diamond rated properties compared to a year ago.
- Airfares are expected to be one percent lower compared to last year.
Economic Improvement Spurs Travel Growth
A strong labor market has helped increase personal income, which, combined with flat prices, has resulted in a boost to disposable income, which is expected to increase 3.5 percent compared to last year. However, cautious consumers are using some of that money to save and pay debt. As a result, the increase in travel volume is forecast to be moderate this Labor Day.
Labor Day Gas Prices Could be Lowest in a Decade
Motorists may find the lowest Labor Day gas prices in a decade. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $2.53 on Thursday, August 27, 2015 – down 91 cents compared to Labor Day 2014, and lower than all Labor Day national average prices dating back to 2004. Daily updates on fuel prices for all 50 states can be found at www.fuelgaugereport.com.
The price of oil continues to sink, putting downward pressure on gas prices. West Texas Intermediate dipped below $40 a barrel this week for the first time since February 2009.
Road Trips Remain Top Travel Preference
The 30.4 million anticipated auto travelers will mark the fifth consecutive year of rising travel volume by automobile. The 2015 forecast is expected to be the second highest volume by this mode since 2003. Low gasoline prices are making it easier, especially for low-income families, to take a last minute Labor Day road trip.
Airfares Dip, Hotel Rates Climb
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates are expected to average higher this Labor Day holiday, while the cost of a flight is slightly lower.
- AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to be the highest in five years, increasing two percent from one year ago, with travelers spending an average of $175 compared to $171.
- The average rate for Two Diamond properties increased 10 percent from Labor Day 2014. Year-to-date through August, the average rate for Two Diamond hotels has increased 9 percent. The $138 average is $13 higher than last year and the highest for this holiday in the past five years.
- Airfares are down one percent, with the average round-trip discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $216, down from $219 last year.
Download the AAA Mobile App Before a Labor Day Getaway
Before setting out on a Labor Day getaway, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via the TripTik Travel Planner. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. Ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
Travel Forecast Methodology
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/HIS Global Insight 2015 Labor Day Travel Forecast can be found here.
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