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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Consumers are still pessimistic when it comes to gas prices and the economy, but the good news is their pessimism did not increase in March, according to the monthly NACS Consumer Fuels Survey.
While 59 percent of U.S. consumers indicated they are "very" or "somewhat" pessimistic about the economy, the percentage that said they are "very pessimistic" about the economy seems to have peaked. Specifically, 20 percent of consumers said that they were very pessimistic, compared to 23 percent the prior month.
Regionally speaking, pessimism about the economy remains highest in the West, with 27 percent of consumers saying that they were "very pessimistic," the survey found.
According to the survey, more than nine of 10 consumers (91 percent) said gas prices have an impact on their feelings about the economy, and nearly half of all consumers (47 percent) said gas prices have a "great impact" on how they feel about the economy. Both numbers are new highs since NACS' first survey was conducted in January.
However, consumers may be feeling like the worst is over. Sixty percent of consumers said that gas prices will be higher in the next 30 days. Though high, this number is a decrease from the 62 percent recorded in the previous two months, said NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
"Consumers are saying that gas prices are having a significant impact on their everyday activities," said NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger. "The decline in gas prices over the past two weeks may provide a sliver of good news for the economy overall. The effect of the declining prices on consumers' opinions about gas prices, and the economy in general is a trend line that we will closely be watching."
NACS began conducting the monthly surveys of gas consumers in January. The latest survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC, with 801 gas consumers surveyed on March 5. Summary results from this and previous surveys can be found at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices.