The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped for the fifth consecutive week, providing some relief for drivers amid the busy holiday travel season.
Prices at the pump tumbled 2.4 cents from a week ago, pushing the average to $3.32 per gallon, according to GasBuddy data, which is compiled from price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.
Compared to a month ago, the national average is down 9 cents. However, it's still $1.18 per gallon higher than a year ago, according to GasBuddy.
Recently, though, prices at the pump have declined in nearly every city nationwide, according to GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, Patrick De Haan.
"With the price of crude oil remaining some $13 per barrel below its 2021 peak, we have continued to see gas prices decline in nearly every city coast to coast, a trend that will likely continue into yet another week," said De Haan.
De Haan noted that concerns surrounding the omicron variant have been "the primary catalyst for the drop."
"While we’ve seen some anecdotal reports about the new variant, vaccine producers have yet to definitively state if current vaccines will still bring adequate protection against omicron – something that might be critical to limit severity and to avoid new shutdowns," De Haan said.
Similarly, AAA blamed the "recent steep drop in oil prices" on fears over the omicron variant. However, AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said the "variant’s impact on pricing appears to be fading, so it remains to be seen if oil prices stabilize or move higher."
Still, De Haan projected that gas prices could keep declining through the end of the year.
"With OPEC+ members still planning to boost oil production in January, we continue to see global oil production slowly rising," he said. "In addition, U.S. gasoline demand last week fell to the lowest level since October, which may limit oil’s recent rebound and keep gas prices declining through the end of the year."
According to AAA, the markets that saw the biggest weekly decreases are Michigan, which declined 6 cents, and Indiana and Alabama, which dropped 5 cents.