Pain at the Pump: Are $4/Gallon Fuel Prices Becoming Part of the New Normal?
During the last week in Columbus, OH, it’s been 80 degrees and sunny on consecutive days, the state of Ohio was represented by four teams in the Sweet Sixteen (including my beloved Buckeyes), and gas prices hit $3.99. Which of these does not belong in the realm of positivity? Well, if you have no interest in Ohio basketball (or basketball in general), I guess you could go with the history-making Ohio representation in the March Madness tournament. And I’m sure if you live in Seattle you could care less what the weather is like in the Ohio capital.
But I think I’ll stick with the gas prices.
Even though we saw it coming, the gas price increase is not welcome. It’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever get used to $4/gallon and, according to our most recent American Pulse™ survey, I’m not alone. 73.7% of Adults 18+ somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement, “I have become used to high gas prices and paying more than $4/gallon would not impact by spending in other areas.”
At $4/gallon, it seems that gas prices are making an impact regardless of income level. Just under three in four (74.7%) of those with a household income level below $50K somewhat or strongly disagree, compared to slightly less (72.7%) of those with income levels $50K and up.
When asked how they expect prices to change over the next 6 months, the majority (87.3%) of Adults 18+ feel that gasoline will be somewhat or significantly more, compared to 76.9% who feel the same way about food prices and 62.7% who think clothing prices will be higher when Fall makes its arrival.
Some consumers, though, are trying to see the glass tank half full when it comes to gas prices. Slightly more than two in five (40.5%) Adults 18+ somewhat or strongly agree with the statement, “Higher gas prices will lead to more alternative energy sources in the long run.” Another point of optimism? Despite higher gas prices, people are planning to spend an average of $145.28 on Easter this year, up from $131.04 last year according to our latest research for the National Retail Federation.
In this post-recession economy, we hear the phrase “New Normal” tossed around a lot, meaning that consumers have adjusted to new spending habits and will not return to their pre-recession ways. While gas prices are also causing us to adjust those spending habits, it seems that most of us are not ready to accept $4/gallon as anything close to normal.
For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.
Source: American Pulse™ Survey, MAR-12 #1, N = 3892
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