Home » NACS: Rise In Gas Prices Causes Consumer Optimism To Wane

NACS: Rise In Gas Prices Causes Consumer Optimism To Wane

May 2015 fuels chart

Last updated on May 13th, 2015 at 03:26 pm

Nearly nine in 10 consumers (85 percent) say that gas prices affect their feelings about the economy, according to survey results released this week by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Gas prices have risen roughly 50 cents per gallon since February. On average, consumers say they will reduce how much they drive if gas prices rise another $1.02, to $3.61 per gallon.

Consumers say that they have noticed rising gas prices. Seven in 10 (70 percent) say gas prices today are higher than they were 30 days ago, which is nearly double the proportion that said so last month (38 percent). Similarly, seven in 10 (72 percent) consumers expect gas prices to continue to rise over the next 30 days—a significant change compared to April (49 percent).NACS logo

Nationwide, economic optimism fell from 52 to 48 percent. Gas prices had an even bigger impact on optimism in western states such as California, where gas prices are averaging up to $1 per gallon more than the national average. Optimism in the West fell from 58 to 47 percent over the past month and trailed national optimism for the first time since August 2014. And consumers in the West do not expect the situation to get better soon: Nearly four in five, or 79 percent of, consumers there expect prices to increase this month.

According to NACS, the best indicator of consumer optimism is miles per dollar, which measures consumers’ self-reported fuel efficiency and gas prices. Miles per dollar fell 10 percent to 8.83, the lowest level in 2015. Miles per dollar has tracked consumer optimism for six of the past seven months.

“While optimism over the economy declined, it is still significantly higher than this time last year when it was only 41 percent. And because the spring switchover to summer-blend fuel is nearly complete, many analysts suggest that prices will soon moderate,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS’ VP of strategic industry initiatives. “Fuel retailers are certainly optimistic, and 86 percent of our members say that they are optimistic about their business in the second quarter.”

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