ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Economic optimism among American gasoline consumers held steady this month, despite a seven-cent climb in the price of gasoline, according to the latest NACS Consumer Fuels survey.
NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells an estimated 80% of the fuel sold in the country, has conducted monthly surveys related to economic issues since January 2013.
Gas consumers report a median gasoline price of $2.29 per gallon, up from $2.22 last month. This price increase has been felt most strongly in the South, with about two in five (42%) saying they noticed gas prices “much higher” or “somewhat higher” than last month. In the West, just a third (32%) of gasoline consumers noticed higher prices.
Despite the uptick in gasoline prices, Americans drivers remain optimistic about the current state of the economy. Three in five (60%) drivers say they are optimistic about the economy, the same proportion that said so last month in July 2017 and 16 points higher than last August when optimism stood at 44%. There are strong demographic variations in optimism; 64% of those age 50 or higher say they are optimistic, compared to 54% of those ages 18-34.
American gasoline consumers also expect gasoline prices to continue to rise. 42% of gasoline consumers say that they expect gasoline prices in 30 days to be higher than they are today. Another 49% say they think gasoline prices will remain about the same as today, and just one in ten (8%) say they believe gas prices will drop in the next 30 days.
Nearly one in four consumers (24%) say that they will drive more this month, the highest percentage recorded over the past five Augusts, and nearly one in five (17%) say they will spend more.
“The convenience store industry is glad to see that consumer optimism remains strong despite the slight rise in gas prices this past month,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Resilient economic optimism is good news as consumers enter the latter half of the summer driving season.”
The survey was conducted online by PSB (Penn Schoen Berland); 1,108 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed August 1-4, 2017. Summary results are available at nacsonline.com/fuelssurvey.