Higher Gas Prices Not Upsetting Consumer Sentiment

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Higher Gas Prices Not Upsetting Consumer Sentiment


ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Americans report that rising gas prices are not affecting their feelings about the economy, despite prices increasing another 18 cents over the past month, marking the fourth consecutive month of price increases.

Consumer sentiment regarding the economy remains unchanged from the previous two months, with 44 percent saying they are optimistic, and only 24 percent saying that gas prices have a "great impact" on their economic perspective, according to the latest national consumer survey released by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

Despite recent increases, the current average gas price of $2.38 per gallon is still 37 cents lower than in June 2015 and $1.32 lower than in June 2014, when 41 percent of consumers said gas prices had a "great impact" on their economic sentiment.

Nearly a quarter of consumers (23 percent) say they will spend more money shopping over the next 30 days and 35 percent of consumers ages 18-34 said the same. They also said gas prices would need to reach the tipping point of $3.51 per gallon before they would reduce the amount they drive.

"Compared to the past two years, the prolonged period of lower gas prices seems to have reset consumer expectations about the economy," stated Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. "Consumers say that gas prices would have to increase by more than a dollar per gallon, which would be in line with the summers of 2014 and 2013, before they would reduce the amount they drive."

Consumers also said the average fuel efficiency of their vehicle increased slightly to 24.1 miles per gallon, but average miles per dollar (which examines gas prices related to vehicle fuel efficiency) fell to 10.1 miles per dollar, the lowest level so far in 2016.