NACS survey: 50% of Americans are optimistic about the economy due to sustained period of lower gas prices

ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2016-Mar-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — Fully half of all Americans (50%) say they are optimistic about the economy, a strong six-point jump over the past month and the highest percentage since November 2015, according to the results of a new consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Two in three consumers (67%) ages 18-34 say that they are optimistic about the economy, a huge 15-point increase from a month ago. Fuel consumers in the Northeast (56% optimistic) and Midwest (54%) are more upbeat about the economy’s prospects than fuel consumers in the South (47%) and West (47%).

The sustained period of lower gas prices appears to finally be driving economic optimism higher. More than four in five consumers (83%) ages 18-34 say that gas prices affect their optimism. Higher optimism may also be contributing to an increase in driving: nearly one in four Americans (23%) say that they will drive more this month, compared to only 16% in March 2015 who said they would drive more over the next month.

While consumers say they are much more optimistic about the economy, they also report a small uptick in gas prices. U.S. fuel consumers reported seeing a median gas price of $1.80 per gallon, a one-cent increase from the February 2016 median of $1.79. This increase, however small, represents the first time consumers have reported a price increase of any size since June 2015.

One in three (34%) U.S. fuel consumers say gas prices have increased in their area in the past month, compared to 68% who noticed gas prices increasing in March 2015. There are significant regional differences; just 16% of fuel consumers in the Northeast report increased prices, while a majority (53%) of Midwesterners have seen higher prices at the pump this month.

When asked about gas prices 30 days in the future, a majority (53%) of U.S. fuel consumers say they expect gas prices to rise, while just one in eight (12%) are expecting prices to drop over the next month. This is the highest percentage of U.S. fuel consumers expecting higher prices since July 2015, when 54% expected increases in gas prices. However, it is still significantly fewer than in March 2015 when three in four drivers (73%) said they thought gas prices would increase.

Even with the slight increase in gas prices, miles per dollar — a calculation that examines gas prices related to vehicle fuel efficiency — hit a new high of 13.22 miles per dollar in March.

“There is a lot of good news for retailers in these results. People feel better about the economy and want to travel more. The key is whether they also will want to spend more and the results right now are mixed, with only 19% of Americans saying that they will spend more this month — the same level as in March 2015. Convenience retailers are optimistic that the increase in consumer sentiment and warmer weather will help grow sales at stores,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts monthly consumer surveys to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,101 gas consumers nationally were surveyed March 8-11, 2016. Summary results are available at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices.

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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 154,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $483 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Nearly half of all regular Black Friday shoppers expect to shop more this holiday season as a result of lower gas prices – NACS survey

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-11-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Nearly half (42%) of all regular Black Friday shoppers expect to shop more this holiday season as a result of lower gas prices, according to the results of a new consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Shoppers also expect to have plenty of company in stores over the holiday season: 96% of Americans say that they expect Americans to shop at least as much — if not more — this holiday season as they did last year. Overall, one in four Americans (25%) expect to shop more this year than last holiday season, when gas prices were approximately 70 cents more per gallon. Two in five (41%) shoppers ages 18 to 34 say they are likely to spend more this year, while only 14% of those over age 50 expect to do so.

Consumers say they are posed to spend more this holiday season because of lower gas prices, and 9 in 10 (87%) of holiday shoppers expect to stop at a convenience store, most often to purchase gas (77% of all travelers and 86% of regular Black Friday shoppers), or to use the bathroom (50% of all travelers and 51% of regular Black Friday shoppers).

Travelers will be buying plenty of beverages at convenience stores: 46% expect to purchase bottled water or a soda and 42% expect to purchase coffee or an energy drink to stay alert. They also plan to purchase food, with 45% expecting to buy a snack and 20% expecting to buy a sandwich or meal from a convenience store while traveling over the holidays.

Younger consumers ages 18-34 are most likely to stop at convenience stores during holiday travels, whether to buy a snack (57%), a bottle of water or soda (55%), a coffee or energy drink (52%), a sandwich or meal (28%) or use the ATM (25%).

“Sales have been strong all year at convenience stores and it looks like these strong sales will continue through the holiday season, especially with Millennials seeking out more fresh items in stores like salads, fruits or sandwiches,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Consumers are optimistic about the economy and lower gas prices are contributing to this optimism.”

Half of all Americans (50%) are optimistic about the economy, according to survey results released by NACS last week.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts monthly consumer surveys to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,100 gas consumers nationally were surveyed November 2-4, 2015.

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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 152,700 stores across the country, posted $696.1 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $482.6 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

SOURCE: NACS

NACS Consumer Fuels Survey: lower gas prices have not significantly altered consumer behavior or attitudes about the state of the economy

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-9-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — While two in three American drivers (67%) report that gas prices are falling, lower gas prices have not significantly altered consumer behavior or attitudes about the state of the economy, according to the latest Consumer Fuels Survey results released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Although drivers report that the national median gas price fell 25 cents per gallon in the past month and 60 cents per gallon since July, only 22% of consumers say that they will drive more over the coming month and only 15% say that they will spend more on other non-fuels items in the coming month.

Declining gas prices also have not yet increased consumer optimism about the economy. Less than half of all consumers (48%) are optimistic about the economy, a one-point drop from the previous month.

Consumers ages 18 to 34 are the most optimistic about the economy and most likely to translate that optimism into spending.  A majority of these younger consumers (57%) are optimistic, and more than one in three (37%) intend to drive more over the coming month. Nearly one in four (23%) say that they will spend more money shopping this month.

Consumers also expect gas prices to continue their slide. More than one in four (28%) say that they expect gas prices to fall this month, the highest percentage expecting further price drops since January 2015.

Nearly 9 in 10 consumers (89%) say that low gasoline prices are good for the economy. But they remain concerned about broader economic issues, such as the recent stock market decline. More than 4 in 10 consumers (41%) say that the recent stock market decline has had an impact on their financial situation.

“Consumers are wary about the economy and even declining gas prices don’t overcome concerns about the wild swings in the stock market,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. “The survey results show that many Americans do not think lower gas prices have delivered meaningful economic relief to their families.”

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 online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,106 gas consumers nationally were surveyed September 8-12, 2015. Summary results are available at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices.

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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 152,700 stores across the country, posted $696.1 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $482.6 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.