A decline in gas prices over the past month has led to a decline in overall consumer pessimism about the economy, according to results from the monthly NACS Consumer Fuels Survey.
Though 54% of U.S. consumers surveyed in April say they remain pessimistic about the economy, it is the lowest percentage of consumer pessimism recorded this year. In addition, only 17% of consumers say that they are “very pessimistic”—a continuous decline from 23% in February and 20% in March.
Consumers also are feeling less pressure concerning gas prices. An overwhelming majority (86%) of consumers still say that gas prices have an impact on their feelings about the economy, but that sentiment is declining and is the lowest measured this year. Also, only 38% of consumers said that gas prices had a “great impact” on their feelings about the economy, the lowest percentage since January.
Meanwhile, as new fueling options hit the market, NACS looked at whether consumers are considering them. More than 4 in 10 (42%) consumers say that they would be likely to consider a diesel fuel-powered vehicle, with 10% saying they would be “very likely” to use diesel. When it comes to diesel usage, there is a considerable gender gap, with 12% of men saying they would be “very likely to use diesel,” compared to 7% of females.
“Prices and availability are likely factors in these results,” said Eichberger. “While diesel engines generally get better performance per gallon, consumers still see that diesel fuel prices are generally higher than gas prices.”
Because convenience stores sell 80% of the gasoline purchased in the country, NACS conducts monthly surveys to measure consumer sentiment related to gas prices, other fuels-related issues, and the economy. NACS will release a detailed survey in May in advance of the unofficial beginning of the summer drive season.
This latest survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC, with 800 gas consumers surveyed from April 5-7, 2013. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3.39 at the 95% confidence interval and higher for subgroups. Summary results from this and previous surveys can be found at nacsonline.com/gasprices.