ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-2-2 — /EPR Retail News/ — Even with gas prices near six-year lows, U.S. consumers are still looking for the best gas prices. Three in five (63%) consumers say they would drive five minutes out of their way to save 5 cents per gallon. An even greater percentage (72%) would pay by cash if they could save five cents per gallon, according to the results of a new consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
Nearly three in four consumers (71%) say that the price is the most important factor in determining where they buy gas. Also, consumers are increasingly seeking out discounts for their gas purchases: Two in three (65%) say that they have taken advantage of a discount, such as using a loyalty card or paying by cash to save money buying gas.
“It doesn’t matter whether gas prices are $4.00 or $2.00 per gallon, consumers still want to find the best price possible,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Retailers are constantly fighting to attract price-sensitive drivers to their stores, especially given that 35% of gas customers say that they also go inside the store after fueling.”
While consumers continue to seek out the best price for their gas, they are driving more because of lower gas prices. Overall, 95% of consumers say that low prices make it easier for Americans to go on vacation, and one in five (20%) say that they are driving more because of lower gas prices.
They also are less likely to seek out alternatives to driving. As a reflection of lower gas prices, consumers say that gas prices would have to increase by $1.53 per gallon before they would try to reduce the amount that they drive. This is the largest gap between current prices and the price at which consumers would change driving behavior in any NACS consumer survey.
Consumers overwhelmingly say that low gas prices are good for the U.S economy (91% agree), but they expect that prices will increase, with two in three (67%) agreeing that gas prices increase in the spring. And they predict that prices will be $2.95 on January 1, 2016.
The survey results were released as part of the 2015 NACS Retail Fuels Report (www.nacsonline.com/gasprices), which examines conditions and trends that could impact gasoline prices. The online resource is annually published to help demystify the retail fueling industry by exploring, among other topics, how fuel is sold, how prices affect consumer sentiment, why prices historically increase in the spring and which new fuels are likely to gain traction in the marketplace.
NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts the monthly consumer sentiment survey to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,108 gas consumers were surveyed January 6-8, 2015.
Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 151,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2013, of which $491 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.