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Gas prices and consumers

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has released the results of a new survey. The results have highlighted that even with gas prices near six year lows, consumers in the US are still looking for the best gas prices. 63% of respondents said they would drive five minutes out of their way to save 5 cents /gal. and 72% said they would pay cash if they could save 5 cents /gal. 71% of consumers said that price is the most important factor in determining where they buy gas. Also, consumers are increasingly seeking out discounts for their purchases. 65% said that they have taken advantage of a discount, such as using a loyalty card or paying by cash to save money buying gas.

Jeff Lenard, NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives said, “it doesn't matter whether gas prices are US$4 or US$2 /gal., consumers still want to find the vest price possible. 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 fuelling.”

However, while consumers seek out the best price for gas, they are driving more because of the overall lower gas prices. 95% of respondents said that low prices make it easier for Americans to go on holiday, and 20% said that they are driving more because of lower gas prices. They also said that they 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 US$1.53 /gal. 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 behaviour in any NACS consumer survey.

Consumers also overwhelmingly said that low gas prices are good for the US economy, but they expect that prices will increase, with 67% agreeing that gas prices increase in the spring. And they predict that prices will be US$2.95 on January 1 next year.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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