Year-on-year gasoline sales in the United States recently moved into positive territory for the first time – on the one-year anniversary of the first major declines that resulted from COVID-induced stay-at-home orders.
However, demand still trails pre-pandemic levels by a considerable margin, according to the latest data from Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) by IHS Markit.
U.S. gasoline same-store sales in gallons for the week ending March 20, 2021, were 10.1% higher than 2020, according to OPIS Demand, a weekly survey of more than 25,000 fuel stations nationwide.
Nevertheless, same-store gasoline sales were still 16% below pre-pandemic levels.
“The year-on-year increase in fuel demand from March 2020 is certainly welcome news for the recovery of the economy and the beginning of the return to normal life for the American people,” said Brian Norris, executive director of retail fuels, OPIS by IHS Markit. “But the real measure of recovery will be a return to pre-pandemic levels. It’s there that progress remains slow and, looking at gasoline, we still have a long way to go.”
Prior to the week ending March 20, 2021, gasoline volumes had mostly hovered in the range of 15% to 18% below prior-year levels since the start of 2021. The main exception was the week ending Feb. 20, which saw a year-on-year decline of 22.4% due to impacts from Winter Storm Uri.