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Watch now: Illinois gas prices are at their highest levels since the summer of 2019

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Apr.09 -- As Americans get ready to hit the road this summer, gas prices are ticking up again. Jeffrey Bair explains why.

SPRINGFIELD — Prices for unleaded gasoline in Springfield and statewide have surged to levels not seen since summer 2019.

A report from GasBuddy, a website that tracks gas prices at the local, state and national levels, shows the average price of regular, unleaded gasoline has reached near $3 per gallon in Springfield, with prices hitting an average of $2.92 per gallon on Friday. The price of gas peaked at $2.99 on March 16. Statewide, prices also have reached close to $3, with unleaded hitting an average of $2.99 a gallon on Friday. The statewide price peaked at $3.07 on March 17.

The prices represent a significant jump of over $1 compared to a year ago in April, when prices had declined to $1.38 a gallon in Springfield and $1.70 statewide. COVID-19-related shutdowns and stay-at-home orders led to the sharp decrease.

"As the pandemic restrictions are lifting, more and more people are getting in their car and going to different places," said Molly Hart, a spokesperson for AAA in Illinois and Northern Indiana.

The jump in prices marks a return to the kind of cost not seen since before the pandemic in the summer of 2019 when prices in Springfield hit a high $2.94 per gallon in July and prices in Illinois surged over $3 per gallon.

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Area gasoline sales still lag 2019 but are improving, said Josh Sharp, chief executive officer of the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association.

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"We've certainly seen a rebound, but we're nowhere near where we were at pre-pandemic levels," Sharp said. "If you were to say that (10-12% drop) in 2018, that would have been catastrophic numbers, but we're just rebounding from a pandemic. We're not back to normal (but) we're maybe 80-90 percent there."

As vaccinations take hold and the summer travel season gets closer, Sharp does see normalcy returning steadily.

"I think as we get to the summer with vaccines available to everyone (and) as the vaccination rate goes up, consumer confidence will go up right along with it," Sharp said. "We'll see increased foot traffic back in our stores and increased traffic back on the roads."


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