I see a mixed message in yesterday's Thanksgiving travel forecast from AAA. On one hand, the group says only slightly more Americans will travel to Grandma's house next week (assuming she lives 50 miles or more away) than did last year. AAA blames reduced consumer confidence and higher travel prices for the slim projection of an 0.8-perccent increase in travel next weekend (37.29 million travelers this year versus 37.0 million in '04).
While gasoline prices have dropped nearly 50 cents on average in the past month, consumers are faced with higher overall travel costs, says AAA. Airfares may be down 4.8 percent from last year, but both(up 1.5 percent) and car rental prices (up 3.2 percent) are higher than they were last Thanksgiving.
A final note of optimism for hotels: Twenty-eight percent of holiday travelers expect to stay in a hotel, up considerably from '04, when only 23 percent of those on turkey holiday stayed with the lodging industry.Ã¢€”Ed Watkins, Editor