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Have gas prices hit their peak?

Gas prices have increased 25 cents per gallon in the last month, averaging $2.21 per gallon Monday in the state of Alabama.

But prices are either at or near their peak for the year, according to AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram.

“It’s just that time of year when gas prices always go up,” Ingram said. “Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to the summer travel season.”

As demand increases, the price of crude oil is bouncing upward amid optimism that the economy is improving. This is happening on a global scale, Ingram said.

“In China, the overall demand has been on the way up the last couple of months,” he noted.

The price of regular unleaded gasoline is still lower than in May 2008, when the state average was $3.70.

But Ingram says not to worry because gas prices usually peak around Memorial Day weekend then drop off and stabilize for the summer.

“I don’t expect our prices to get too much higher than they are now. I don’t think they will get over $2.50 a gallon at any point this year,” he said.

Ingram added, however, that anything can happen because lots of factors determine the price of fuel.

“You never know,” he said.

The best thing individuals can do, he advised, is to price shop.

“Demand is already way down, so price shopping is the best thing we can do to keep our prices as low as possible.”