ALEXANDRIA, Va. – As summer approaches, the vast majority of consumers expect gas prices to rise (57%) or to stay at current levels (36%). Very few gas purchasers expect prices to drop during the coming month (just 6%), according to the latest NACS Consumer Fuels Survey findings.
Overall, gas prices are up six cents (from $2.59 to $2.65 per gallon) since the last NACS consumer poll in February, and drivers have noticed, as nearly seven in 10 (68%) consumers say that gas prices are higher than they were 30 days ago.
NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells an estimated 80% of the fuel sold in the United States, has conducted regular surveys related to economic issues and consumer sentiment since January 2013.
Despite both the current and expected future rise in gas prices, Americans remain optimistic about the overall economy: 62% of drivers say that they are optimistic about the economy, up two points from the February survey. In April 2016, only 44% of Americans were optimistic about the economy. Today, consumers are most optimistic in the Northeast (65%) and least optimistic in the West (55%), the region that also had the highest percentage of drivers who noticed gas prices have increased (79%).
Gas prices are considerably higher this April than in previous years; they are 32 cents more than in April 2017 and 65 cents more than in April 2016.
Despite higher gas prices, Americans don’t seem to be cutting back on driving or spending. Only 9% say they will drive less over the next 30 days and 16% say they will spend less on household items this coming month (compared to 19% who said they would drive less in February 2018). One in four Americas (27%) say they will drive less, but that is also lower than the 32% who said so in February 2018.
“Higher gas prices don’t appear to be affecting overall sentiment about the economy but there are some signals worth watching. For one, younger consumers ages 18 to 34 are most likely to say they will cut back on eating out or other spending, which could continue if gas prices remain a concern,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.
The survey was conducted online by PSB (Penn Schoen Berland); 1,501 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed April 6-10. Summary results from the April 2018 NACS Consumer Fuels Report are online.