If you’re among the nearly 40 million Americans expected to have traveled over this holiday weekend, you paid more than you have in many years for everything — and it was worth it.

As the holiday approached, AAA released its annual forecast on Memorial Day travel, estimating that 39.2 million people would travel at least 50 miles from home for a Memorial Day weekend getaway — “an increase of 8.3% over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost in line with those in 2017.”

AAA said air travel would be “up 25% over last year, the second-largest increase since 2010, with volumes closing in on pre-pandemic levels.

Its forecast now in the rearview, AAA Travel Senior V.P. Paula Twidale said that “Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel. Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire.”

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Driving Beats Flying on Price

Figures forecast by location intelligence platform Arrivalist differ somewhat from the AAA outlook, in that the tourism geolocation service sees road trips surging over air travel escapes.

In a press release, Arrivalist founder and CEO Cree Lawson said, “While rising gas prices are an important factor in determining travel plans, we’ve observed that the recent increase in airfare motivates travelers to take longer road trips.”

Road trip trends Arrivalist is tracking include “more overnight stays, fewer day trips, an increase in road trips in the 250-plus mile range (perhaps due to a 26 percent increase in airfares), and higher volume of midweek travel.”

The site crunches data including information from its own Daily Travel Index, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) numbers, gas prices, and COVID-19 case counts, adding that, “COVID-19 case counts had a lower weighting this year; gas prices had a higher weighting.”

Discount app GasBuddy released its outlook for fuel prices on this summer kickoff holiday.

In a pre-holiday release, the fuel discounting app said that “even with record high gasoline prices, 58% of Americans intend to road trip this summer, a rise from last summer, when gas prices were nearly $1.50 per gallon lower. While the high prices may not stand in the way of Americans summer travel plans, nearly two-thirds have yet to confirm their plans, with 38% saying that high inflation is leading to difficulty in planning summer trips.”

GasBuddy said gas prices over Memorial Day weekend will average $4.65 per gallon, a 51% increase over a year ago. The site average prices from Memorial Day to Labor Day to hover around $4.40 per gallon nationwide, but notes that “significant events” could sway prices either way.

Despite the optimism, GasBuddy said fuel prices are causing hesitation in travel plans that could spill over into the retail sales that attend tourists.

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Retail Questions, Veteran’s Discounts 

While it didn’t make a proclamation about Memorial Day weekend, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is looking just three weeks past it to Father’s Day, projecting total receipts of $20.1 billion making it tick lower than 2021’s $20 billion take — likely an inflationary effect — but not bad.

Admittedly an apples-to-oranges comparison, it does give a glimpse into consumer sentiment on spending for nonessentials in the early weeks of what is shaping up to be an unpredictable season.

Because dining is a big part of Memorial Day festivities — and because Memorial Day is dedicated to those who died while serving in the U.S. military — dozens of restaurant chains are offering special dining discounts all week to military veterans to commemorate the day.

Here’s a comprehensive list, courtesy of Military.com.

See also: US Retail Sales Rise 0.9% in April as Consumers Deal With Price Hikes



About: PYMNTS’ survey of 2,094 consumers for The Tailored Shopping Experience report, a collaboration with Elastic Path, shows where merchants are getting it right and where they need to up their game to deliver a customized shopping experience.

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