A Free-Market Energy Blog

Independence Day: Driving, Grilling, Fireworks

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- July 3, 2024

The July Fourth week will be energetic coming and going. The celebration is another reminder that modern life revolves activities that naturally emit the “gas of life”—carbon dioxide.

Peak demand? No, just the opposite. Record driving, flying, and cruising; Record grilling; Record fireworks.


“Nearly 71 Million People Expected to Travel over July 4th Week,” the American Automobile Association predicts. “This year’s extended Independence Day forecast exceeds pre-pandemic numbers, sets new record.” Here is the full story:

AAA projects a record 60.6 million people will travel by car over Independence Day week – that’s an additional 2.8 million travelers compared to last year. This year’s number also surpasses 2019 when 55.3 million people traveled by car over July 4th week….

Affordability? Still strong despite Biden’s best efforts to reduce oil supplies.

Gas prices are lower than last year when the national average was $3.53. Pump prices will likely continue going down leading up to Independence Day.  At that point, they will likely level off and remain relatively stable until after Labor Day, similar to last year. An important caveat is hurricane season – underway now – which could affect gas prices should a storm negatively impact Gulf Coast oil production and refining centers.


AAA also commented on other modes of transportation.

The number of air travelers is also expected to set a new record. AAA projects 5.74 million people will fly to their July 4th destinations. That’s an increase of nearly 7% compared to last year and a 12% increase over 2019. AAA booking data shows domestic airfare is 2% cheaper this Independence Day week compared to last year, and the average price for a domestic roundtrip ticket is $800.

Other Transportation

“More than 4.6 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains,” AAA notes. “This category is seeing an increase of 9% compared to last year, but this year’s number is shy of 2019’s figure of 4.79 million.”

The newest luxury transportation is by ship. AAA reports:

Cruising continues its remarkable post-pandemic comeback. This time of year, Alaska cruises are in high demand, making Seattle and Anchorage top domestic destinations. Cruise travelers are also finding deals this summer. With new ships coming onto the market – and going for a premium – some cruise lines have been offering targeted discounts to fill older inventory for remaining cabins.


Grilling has seen significant growth in the United States in recent years,” AI summarizes, “with the outdoor cooking industry’s revenue growing to $6.1 billion in 2021, a 14% increase from the previous year.”

According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), 80% of U.S. homeowners owned a grill or smoker in 2023, up from 64% in 2019. NPD reports that U.S. consumers purchased more than 21 million grills and smokers between July 2020 and 2022, with 27% of new grill owners citing cooking more at home during COVID as the reason for their purchase.

The North American barbecue grill market is projected to reach $3.2 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% from 2022 to 2028. Market trends for electric products are expected to grow at a 5.3% annual rate between 2023 and 2032, driven by the growing interest in home cooking as a hobby or leisure activity.


It’s boomtime with fireworks, with July Fourth being the “big day.” The American Pyrotechnics Association reports:

We expect a banner year for fireworks sales. Despite inflationary pressures, ocean shipping rates have declined since the height of the supply chain crisis during COVID-19, making consumer fireworks more affordable this year by 5-10%.

“Our member companies are reporting strong consumer fireworks sales numbers, and we predict revenues could exceed $2.4 billion for the 2024 fireworks season,” said Julie L. Heckman, Executive Director of the APA.

Forth of July fireworks at Long Beach, California.; Shutterstock ID 112578440

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