Another decline in gas prices helped fuel Americans’ optimism about the economy to near record levels, according to the latest NACS Consumer Fuels Survey.
The U.S. convenience store industry sells an estimated 80% of the fuel sold in the country, and NACS has conducted monthly surveys related to economic issues since January 2013.
Drivers report a median gas price of $2.22, down 13 cents from $2.35 in June. This month’s prices are the lowest gas prices reported by consumers this year.
As gas prices decline, consumers are feeling more optimistic about the state of the economy. Three in five (60%) American drivers report feeling optimistic about the economy, a two-point increase from last month and a point off the record high recorded in March. Last July, 47% of American drivers expressed optimism related to the economy.
Historically, most consumers say that prices will increase over the next 30 days; however, that perception is changing as gas prices remain low for a sustained period. Only 41% of drivers now say that they expect prices to climb this month, the lowest percentage in 12 months.
The decline in gas price has been felt most strongly in the South, where over half (55%) of consumers say they noticed lower gas prices this month. In contrast, just under a third (29%) of consumers in the West say they noticed this month’s dip in prices. Overall, 43% say they believe gas prices are lower than 30 days ago.
Nearly one in four consumers (24%) say that they will drive more this month and nearly one in five (18%) say they will spend more.
“The cumulative effect of low gas prices over the past three summers is certainly pushing consumer optimism higher,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives. “Low gas prices, warm summer weather and high consumer optimism are the three factors most cited by convenience stores retailers looking to grow their sales and retailers are very optimistic about summer sales.”
In fact, more than four in five convenience store retailers (83%) say they are optimistic about their business prospects for the third quarter of 2017, the highest level recorded in the past eight quarters, according to a NACS retailer optimism survey published in late June.
The NACS Consumer Fuels Survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB); 1,118 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed July 5 – 7, 2017. Summary results are available at Convenience.com/FuelsSurvey.