Americans are ignoring inflation on 4th of July: Over 100 million expected to travel

A record volume of passengers is expected at airports, where 32 million people will be screened. On the roads, 70.9 million are projected to head 50 miles or more from home over the Independence Day holiday

Fourth of July fireworks in Washington, D.C.
Fourth of July fireworks in Washington, D.C.Buyenlarge (Getty Images)

This year, the 4th of July falls on a Thursday, which has made it easier for Americans to take a short vacation. And even though inflation and interest rates have sent prices soaring, consumers are showing signs that they will continue spending to commemorate this country’s Independence Day.

However, there will be greater caution compared to last year’s record spending, according to figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF). The annual survey indicates that total spending will be around $9.4 billion on food and drink at the thousands of barbecues and similar culinary celebrations in which 66% of the population will participate. Per person, this represents about $90.42, or 3.1% less than in 2023. Retailers expect that almost one in three people who celebrate this holiday will do so with products displaying patriotic themes, from flags to t-shirts, paper plates and cups in red, white and blue.

Record numbers at airports

The country’s airports and highways are expecting greater activity than last year, and have been noticing a greater influx of travelers for several days now. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was expecting to screen more than 32 million people at airport security checkpoints from June 27 to July 8. That’s an increase of 5.4% over last year’s travel volumes over the period.

Coinciding with a reduction in airline ticket prices in recent months, after the sharp increases of recent years, on June 23 the TSA broke the record for most people screened on a single day, screening nearly 3 million (2.99 million) individuals. Last year, more than 2.8 million travelers were screened on the eve of Independence Day.

“We expect this summer to be our busiest ever, and summer travel usually peaks over the Independence Day holiday,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement. “The traveling public is on the move, which is a sign of a healthy economy.”

Those who are not traveling by air are doing so by road. The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects 70.9 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Independence Day holiday travel period. This year the calculations are made for a longer period of time than other years and a 5% increase in road travelers is projected, compared to 2023. It is also 8% more than in 2019, before the Covid pandemic caused intense changes in consumption patterns.

“With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, in a statement.

On the road, motorists will pay an average of $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline, slightly more than the previous three weeks as oil prices have risen above $3.80 per barrel. It is, however, a somewhat lower price than last year and it is expected that if there are no more movements in international markets and hurricanes do not impact production in the Gulf of Mexico and the refining centers, the price per gallon will stabilize.

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