Optimism Rebounds as Holiday Shopping Season Nears

Published in CSP Daily News

Lower gas prices nurturing positive consumer viewpoint

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Following three straight months of rising pessimism, consumers today report feeling better about the economy, according the latest monthly NACS Consumer Fuels Survey that examines how gasoline prices affect consumer sentiment.

Overall, consumers feel more optimistic than they have since August, and that bodes well for retailers of all types seeking strong holiday sales to end the year on a positive note.

NACS conducts the national survey of drivers every month to measure how gasoline prices affect consumer sentiment. An analysis of 2013 to date has shown that price fluctuations (increases or decreases) have had a greater impact than overall prices when it comes to consumer sentiment. Consumer sentiment has regularly followed price movement this year, and in November, a nearly10-cent drop in gasoline prices contributed to a five-point drop in consumer pessimism.

The decrease in gasoline prices is nurturing optimism about gasoline prices in the near future. For the second month in a row, a majority of consumers (58%) believe that gasoline prices will be lower 30 days from now. Only 43% of consumers say that gasoline prices will be higher next month, a big decrease from July when a year-high 64% said they thought that prices would increase.

"Changes in gas prices clearly play a critical role in affecting consumer sentiment," said NACS vice president of government relations John Eichberger." Gas prices have decreased more than 35 cents per gallon in the past three months, and we are happy to see that positive news at the pump is having a great impact on consumer optimism."

Every month, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) conducts a nationwide survey in partnership with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates LLC to measure consumer perceptions about gasoline prices and how they relate to broader economic conditions. For November, NACS surveyed 804 gasoline consumers from Nov. 5-6, 2013. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/-3.39 at the 95% confidence interval and higher for subgroups. The OPIS weekly national average price for gasoline was $3.265 on Nov. 4, the week in which NACS fielded the the survey. Summary results can be found at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 149,000 stores across the country, posted $700 billion in total sales in 2012, of which $501 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.