Everyone is talking about gas prices, which seem to rise almost daily. That climb affects not only people who drive – which comprises most Americans — but even car-less city-dwellers who will end up paying higher prices on food and other products that have to be shipped across the nation’s roads.
The impact of the higher gas prices is already being felt by American consumers, according to a newly released Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,451 Americans between March 12 and 19. A majority of respondents, 55%, told Harris that they have reduced spending elsewhere due to gas prices. Predictably, more Americans with incomes under $35,000 have trimmed other spending, 67%, compared to those making $100,000 or more, 37% of whom say they have cut back elsewhere.
Harris found that the products and services most affected by consumer spending reductions include:
- Dining out – 75%
- Driving in general — 73%
- Entertainment — 65%
- Weekend trips or day trips — 65%
- Luxury goods — 62%
- Vacations — 59%
- Clothing — 55%
- Movies — 54%
- Groceries — 38%
- Haircuts and manicures — 37%
- Automobile maintenance — 24%
CBS MoneyWatch reported that, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), gas prices have actually fallen slightly over the past week, to a current nationwide average of $3.907 a gallon.
Crude prices — the biggest determinant of gas prices — jumped from around $75 a barrel, starting in October, to about $103 this week. CBS noted that analysts attributed the spike to diminished concerns over Europe’s money woes and rising economic confidence.
U.S. gasoline consumption is at an 11-year low, CBS said, noting that a recent MasterCard (NYSE:MA) survey found that consumers had purchased 5.3% less gasoline in 2012 compared to the same period last year.