More Americans to Travel This Labor Day Weekend

Improving economic indicators are expected to fuel US travel spending

traffic jamsAAA reported that as a result of increased consumer spending and a more positive housing market, 4.2% more Americans plan to travel this Labor Day Weekend compared with last year.

The not-for-profit federation of 50 motor clubs that serves more than 53 million members says 34.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day holiday, a post-recession high. AAA reports that 29.2 million (or 85%) of travelers will do so by automobile, an increase of 4.3% on slightly (2.7%) lower gas prices as of mid-August.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced last week that estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales increased 0.2% from June to July 2013 and 5.4% when compared to July 2012 — a positive economic indicator. Similarly, the National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales declined in June but remain well above year-ago levels.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $51, 32% more than last year’s average of $39, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Airfares increased 4% year-over-year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $214 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $205 last year. AAA also reported that holiday air travel expected to increase nearly 3% to $2.61 million and the average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804.

The study looks at a variety of factors and how they impact travel. Those factors include the unemployment rate, consumer sentiment, consumer spending as well as such travel data as hotel and gas prices.

“It really comes down to consumer’s optimism and comfort level with planning a vacation,” says Heather Hunter, a spokeswoman for AAA. “This year for Labor Day, the housing market is helping to spur the growth as prices are beginning to rise in certain parts of the country. As those prices are increasing, people are feeling more confident.”

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