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A Dip in Gasoline Use Stokes Debate Over Demand Destruction

The surge in pump prices is starting to make a dent in our appetite for fuel.
relates to A Dip in Gasoline Use Stokes Debate Over Demand Destruction
Illustration: Choi Haeryung for Bloomberg Businessweek

The US was only two weeks into its traditional summer driving season when soaring gasoline prices began taking a toll on a quintessential American pastime: the summer road trip.

Gasoline demand trended lower in three out of the past four weeks, an unusual move for this time of year. The four-week rolling average for US gasoline consumption slid 2.9% to 8.73 million barrels a day as of July 8. Aside from 2020, when the pandemic sent the world into lockdown, it marks the lowest seasonal demand in 21 years. While just a week’s worth of data, it raises questions about the resilience of fuel demand and whether prices have been high enough for long enough to bring a meaningful lasting change in consumer behavior.