Low Gas Prices Lead to April Surge in Consumer Optimism

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A majority of Americans are optimistic about the economy, with low gas prices being the driving force for their optimism, according to the latest monthly survey released by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

Overall, 52 percent of U.S. consumers say they are optimistic about the economy, up eight percentage points from March. Those most optimistic are consumers aged 18-24 and those who live in the West, both at 58 percent.

This increase in optimism continues an ongoing trend in 2015, according to NACS. Most Americans have stated they are optimistic in three out of the past four months, during which time gas prices averaged between $2.05 and $2.40 per gallon nationwide. These months were the only months that a majority of U.S. consumers have expressed optimism about the economy since NACS launched its monthly survey in January 2013.

Gas prices averaged $3.51 per gallon in 2013 and $3.36 per gallon in 2014 nationwide.

Along with the state of the economy, consumers are also optimistic about the future of gas prices. More than half of consumers (52 percent) believe gas prices will be at the same price or lower in 30 days, an increase from just 26 percent who believed the same in March.

While 76 percent of Americans say gas prices impact their feelings about the economy, only 25 percent say gas prices have a great impact on their feelings. This marks the lowest level recorded and is significantly lower than the average of 36 percent who indicated the same 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, NACS' vice president of strategic initiatives. "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."

For NACS' April survey, Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC surveyed 1,103 gas consumers April 7-9.

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