July 4 travelers to SD seeing lowest prices at the pump in 16 years

Aided by the COVID-19 pandemic, gas prices have lagged nationally behind the pace of recent years. (AAA graphic)

Travelers and motorists coming to South Dakota this week for the Independence Day holiday will be taking advantage of the lowest gasoline prices nationally in 16 years.

According to the gas-price tracking site GasBuddy, South Dakota is averaging $2.01 per gallon, up 19.6 cents higher than one month ago, but down nearly 70 cents compared to the end of June 2019.

Nationally, GasBuddy said the national average of $2.17 cents per gallon, as projected on July 4, would be the lowest national price since 2004, when gas was $1.87 per gallon. The national average price has been $2.20 per gallon or higher since 2005.

“2020 continues to be anything but a normal year, and low gas prices have persisted into summer’s unofficial halfway point, Independence Day. While gasoline demand has continued to rebound, there is anxiety about the recent surge in new coronavirus cases in the U.S., and that could prevent gas prices from seeing a continued rebound. However, we’re currently in the midst of the lowest summer gas prices we’ve seen in some 15 years,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “For now, expect a roller coaster ride at the pump, but conditions to socially distance and hit the road remain ripe for those able to do so. Prices in all 50 states remain well-below year-ago levels, but should the coronavirus situation improve significantly, gas prices will follow.”

In a news release, De Haan said this is one of the toughest gas-price forecasting years in the last two decades.


Compared to around the state and nearby Sioux Falls, Mitchell has enjoyed much of the COVID-19 pandemic period with lower than average prices. Mitchell’s average gas price was at $1.97 on Monday morning, up five cents from the Friday average of $1.92, according to an average of 14 gas stations in the city. Earlier in the month, the average price was $1.79. Gas prices in Mitchell, depending on where in the city, varied by as many as 15 cents per gallon over the weekend.

Mitchell remains ahead of the Sioux Falls average, which is currently $2.13 per gallon. Since the pandemic started, gas prices in some parts of the state dipped to as low as $1.19 per gallon in mid-April.

The other major national firm to track gas prices, AAA, noted that national gasoline demand increased about 10 percent from last week, a sign that Americans are filling up the tank at the highest rate since late March.

“While that average will continue to increase ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend, travelers will find pump prices about 50 cents cheaper than last year’s holiday,” said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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