As summer approaches, the vast majority of consumers expect gas prices to rise (57 percent) or to stay at current levels (36 percent). Very few gas purchasers expect prices to drop during the coming month (6 percent), according to the latest National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Consumer Fuels Survey findings.
NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells an estimated 80 percent of the fuel sold in the U.S., has conducted regular surveys related to economic issues and consumer sentiment since January 2013.
Despite both the current and expected future rise in gas prices, Americans remain optimistic about the overall economy: 62 percent of drivers say that they are optimistic about the economy; up two points from the February survey. In April 2016, only 44 percent of Americans were optimistic about the economy. Today, consumers are most optimistic in the Northeast (65 percent) and least optimistic in the West (55 percent).
Gas prices were considerably higher this April than in previous years; they are 32 cents more than in April 2017 and 65 cents more than in April 2016.
Despite higher gas prices, Americans don’t seem to be cutting back on driving or spending. Only 9 percent say they will drive less over the next 30 days and 16 percent say they will spend less on household items this coming month (compared to 19 percent who said they would drive less in February 2018).
“Higher gas prices don’t appear to be affecting overall sentiment about the economy, but there are some signals worth watching. For one, younger consumers ages 18 to 34 are most likely to say they will cut back on eating out or other spending, which could continue if gas prices remain a concern,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS VP of strategic industry initiatives.