A majority of Americans say they are optimistic about the economy and low gas prices are driving the optimism.
Overall, 52 percent of Americans are optimistic about the economy, an eight-point jump from March. Those most optimistic are younger consumers age 18-34 (58 percent) and those in the West (58 percent), according to survey results released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
The surge in optimism continues on ongoing trend in 2015. A majority of Americans have said they are optimistic about the economy in three of the previous four months, when national gas prices averaged between $2.05 and $2.40 per gallon. These are the only months that a majority of Americans have expressed optimism about the economy since NACS initiated the survey in January 2013. Gas prices averaged $3.51 per gallon in 2013 and $3.36 per gallon in 2014.
Consumers also are optimistic about where gas prices may be heading. More than half (52 percent) of consumers feel that gas prices in 30 days will be about the same or lower than today, up from the one in four (26 percent) who predicted the same last month.
While gas prices remain top of mind—76 percent of Americans say that gas prices impact their feelings about the economy—only one in four (25 percent) say that gas prices have a great impact on their feelings, the lowest level recorded and significantly lower than the average of 36 percent who indicated so over the previous 12 months.
“Continued strong consumer optimism is great news for convenience stores, which tend to see significant sales growth with both warmer weather and lower gas prices,” said Jeff Lenard, VP of strategic initiatives for NACS. “And it’s also likely good news for the American economy, since the convenience store industry’s nearly $700 billion in annual sales comprise 4 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product.”
NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80 percent of the gas sold in the country, conducts the monthly consumer sentiment survey to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,103 gas consumers were surveyed April 7-9.