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    Consumers Suffering From Economic Mood Swings

    Sentiment shifts in harmony with gas prices.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A host of world and national events have led to wide swings in the economic mood of consumers over the past three months, according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

    “We have seen increasingly wide swings ... as consumers continue to sort out how world and national events could affect their economic security," said NACS' Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. "At the same time, it appears that what happens at the corner store with gas prices continues to play a major role with consumer sentiment.”

    August and September provided excellent examples of the economic mood swings. In August, 39 percent of gas consumers surveyed by NACS in its monthly Consumer Fuels Survey stated they were optimistic about the economy, a 10-month low. However, this figure shot up to 47 percent in September. The 8-point rise denotes the largest month-to-month increase NACS has measured since it introduced its Consumer Fuels Survey in January 2013.

    As for why economic optimism rebounded so sharply this month, nearly nine in 10 consumers (87 percent) of those surveyed by NACS pointed to gas prices, which have dropped an average of 20 cents per gallon over the past two months. 

    Whether this improved optimism will lead to more spending remains in question. According to NACS, 22 percent of respondents said they'll do more shopping during the next month, while an equal 22 percent said they will do less shopping. 

    Most of those willing to spend more in the near future come from the 18-to-34 age range, of which 38 percent said they will do more shopping in the coming month. Conversely, only 12 percent of survey respondents aged 50 and older said they will spend more money.

    While spending projections remain hazy, NACS Consumer Fuels Survey respondents did indicate they are getting more value for their dollar. Miles per dollar spent at the pump increased 2.3 percent to a six-month high of 6.8 miles per dollar.

    Founded in 1961, Alexandria-based NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

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