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Low Gas Prices, Not-So-High Hopes

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — While two in three American drivers (67%) report that gas prices are falling, lower gas prices have not significantly altered consumer behavior or attitudes about the state of the economy, according to the latest Consumer Fuels Survey results recently released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Although drivers report that the national median gas price fell 25 cents per gallon in the past month and 60 cents per gallon since July, only 22% of consumers say that they will drive more over the coming month and only 15% say that they will spend more on other non-fuels items in the coming month.

Declining gas prices also have not yet increased consumer optimism about the economy. Less than half of all consumers (48%) are optimistic about the economy, a one-point drop from the previous month.

Consumers ages 18 to 34 are the most optimistic about the economy and most likely to translate that optimism into spending. A majority of these younger consumers (57%) are optimistic, and more than one in three (37%) intend to drive more over the coming month. Nearly one in four (23%) say that they will spend more money shopping this month.

Consumers also expect gas prices to continue their slide. More than one in four (28%) say that they expect gas prices to fall this month, the highest percentage expecting further price drops since January 2015.

Nearly nine in 10 consumers (89%) say that low gasoline prices are good for the economy. But they remain concerned about broader economic issues, such as the recent stock market decline. More than four in 10 consumers (41%) say that the recent stock market decline has had an impact on their financial situation.

“Consumers are wary about the economy and even declining gas prices don’t overcome concerns about the wild swings in the stock market,” said NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives Jeff Lenard. “The survey results show that many Americans do not think lower gas prices have delivered meaningful economic relief to their families.”

Alexandria, Va.-based NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% 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 online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,106 gas consumers nationally were surveyed Sept. 8-12, 2015.


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