Ladies & Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Every year, Memorial Day weekend ushers in the Summer Driving Season. 2021 is going to be much different than 2020. You’ve probably already noticed the increased congestion on freeways. It’s about to get a lot busier.

Highways from coast to coast will be active over the Memorial Day weekend. AAA projects over 37 Million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home. That would mark a 60% increase from last year, which was the lowest on record since tracking began in 2000. It still would fall below the all-time record of 42 Million reached pre-Covid in 2019. But it’s definitely back in a positive direction.

The vast majority of American travelers plan to hit the road this weekend. Those traveling by car are going to see the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2014. High demand for fuel and low supply in some areas following the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline contributed to the rising fuel prices. It doesn’t seem to matter. There is so much pent-up demand to get out and have fun again.

Roughly 2.5 Million people will fly the friendly skies. Even though that’s less than 10% of total holiday weekend travelers, that is expected to be a 6-Fold increase from last year. Hotels are booked full, companies like Airbnb and VRBO say they are sold out in many communities, and rental cars are all but impossible to find. According to AAA, the top 5 destinations this year are Las Vegas, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Denver and Nashville.

So far in May, nearly 1.5 Million people per day have gone through US airport checkpoints, according to the TSA. AAA said its air-travel forecast might actually seem low because it counts each traveler only once. TSA counts people twice if they take a round-trip flight. You gotta love statistics…

The vaccine has proven to be a major economic stimulant. Half of the adults in the United States, over 129 Million people over the age of 18, are now fully vaccinated against Covid. 3/4 of those aged 65 and up have been fully vaccinated. 9 states – Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont – have inoculated over 70% of their adult population with at least one dose. It doesn’t stop there. Nearly 5 Million kids age 12-15 have received at least one dose of the vaccine since it was approved just 2 weeks ago, according to the CDC.

The reopening of America has created one expensive factor: Demand is outstripping supplies in darn near everything. It’s the case with fuel, housing, rental cars, hotels. And especially food. Spiking commodity prices mean more expensive produce and other food items. Supply chains have also been strained. Feed prices for beef have soared, meaning more expensive burgers this Memorial Day. Bacon and hot dogs may be hard to find this weekend, due to a global pig shortage. The price of lobster is apparently out of hand in Maine. Shipping delays have led to shortages of foreign imports, like seafood, wine and cheese. It’s also increasing costs on All-American items. Coca-Cola and General Mills have already begun raising prices.

I’d like to end with a never-ending thanks and expression of gratitude to those brave women and men who risked their lives for our freedom. They are Real American Heroes. Originally known as Decoration Day, this day of respect to our fallen soldiers originated after the Civil War. It became an official National holiday in 1971.

Enjoy Memorial Day. It’s a day dedicated to remembering them. It’s a day of honor and reflection. It’s also become a weekend of celebration, enjoying the first outdoor gatherings of Summer and celebrating life. That seems altogether fitting and proper; Especially this year. Our nation was founded with the commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The roots stem from the Revolutionary War. A soldier’s purpose is to protect the homeland from the harsh truths of war. I heard someone say Memorial Day is their gift to us. In that case, it’s perhaps the greatest gift of all.

Have a nice Memorial Day weekend. We’ll be back, dark and early on Tuesday.


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