Expect Consumers to Repeat Reactions to Rising Gas Prices

SCHAUMBERG, Ill. -- With gas prices rising to their highest mark in two years, consumers can be expected to repeat many of the same shopping and spending patterns they employed when the average price of gas reached $4.11 per gallon during the summer of 2008, according to Todd Hale, senior vice president, consumer and shopper insights.

Although the price of gas settled back to $1.61 per gallon by the end of that year, fuel prices have crept back up to $3.05 per gallon, and some analysts expect the price to rise to near 2008 levels, said Hale in a blog on NielsenWire.com.

At the time of the gas price peak in 2008, consumers responded by reducing shopping trips, eating out less, buying for value and using more coupons, according to Nielsen research.

"It was during that year that the ‘staycation’ came into existence as consumers cut-back on unnecessary travel and did more at home in an effort to save money," wrote Hale. "We saw a flurry of meal deals from food retailers and manufacturers as they aggressively fought to win trips that restaurants were losing."

Hale expects past consumer reactions to gas prices to come into play in 2011.

"A number of the habits consumers formed in response to the high gas prices then have remained in place, and are likely to accelerate if gas prices go much higher, including buying gas linked to spending levels at grocery stores and purchasing gas at outlets offering other incentives," wrote Hale.

Hale continued: "While it’s not yet clear how high gas prices might go, any further rises coupled with elevated levels of unemployment are likely to drive consumers to take additional steps to save money. It’s never too early to have the strategy in place to respond."

To read Hale’s full blog and view charts, go to: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/here-we-go-again-how-will-u-s-consumers-react-to-rising-gas-prices/

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