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SoCal gas prices at 8-year low during busy holiday travel weekend

SoCal gas prices at 8-year low during busy holiday travel weekend
Traffic is bumper to bumper on the departure deck as travelers do the holiday shuffle at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

A record 7.7 million Southern Californians will travel for the holidays starting this weekend and those going by car will enjoy the lowest gasoline prices in eight years, the Automobile Club of Southern California reported.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $2.719 a gallon as of Thursday, a 17-cent drop from a year earlier, the Auto Club said in its weekly fuel report.

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The average in Orange County was $2.712 a gallon Thursday, and the statewide average was $2.673 a gallon.

Pump prices in the region are down nearly $2 a gallon from the all-time highs reached in October 2012, when refinery outages and heightened fears of lower supplies in California sent prices soaring.

The record price in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, $4.705 a gallon, was set Oct. 9, 2012, the Auto Club said.

This year, however, "the 6.8 million Southland residents going by car to holiday destinations will be paying less to fill up than for any other Christmas-New Year's holiday since 2008," Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring said in a statement.

The nation's financial crisis took hold in 2008. Every year since then, as the country recovered, there's been an increase in the number of end-of-year travelers for the period Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, the club said.

Earlier this month, the Auto Club said the record 7.7 million Southern Californians expected to travel at least 50 miles from home for this year's holidays is up 1.8% from a year ago.

The most popular holiday destinations for Southern Californians are Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco, the club said. Hawaii is the most popular destination for those traveling by air.

For more business news, follow James F. Peltz on Twitter: @PeltzLATimes

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