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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Declining gas prices are likely to prompt increased holiday spending this year, particularly among men and consumers aged 18 to 34, according to a new national survey measuring consumer optimism conducted by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
For the first time in two years, a majority of men (51 percent) are optimistic about the economy. An even higher percentage of younger consumers (56 percent) feel the same. Both groups say they are more likely to increase their spending during this holiday season.
Consumer confidence remains elevated as gas prices have dropped nearly 70 cents per gallon to under $3 per gallon over the past four months, NACS stated in its latest monthly report. Americans save an estimated $3.7 million per day at the pump for every 1-cent decline.
Consumer optimism for November holds steady at 46 percent, marking the fourth time in five months that optimism was at 46 percent or higher.
Consumers also have expectations about future gas price declines, with 26 percent saying they think gas prices will be even lower in 30 days than they are today. This is the most positive gas price forecast made by consumers since NACS launched its monthly consumer surveys in January 2013.
While 65 percent of Americans say they will spend the same this holiday season, 14 percent say they intend to spend more this year because of the lower gas prices. The two most optimistic groups are also the most likely to increase their holiday spending: 27 percent of those aged 18 to 34 and 18 percent of men intend to increase their holiday shopping because of lower gas prices.
"Our surveys over the past two years show that gas prices clearly play a major role in consumer sentiment about the economy," said Jeff Lenard, NACS' vice president of strategic initiatives. "However, declining gas prices alone may not take consumer sentiment much higher in the short term. It may take similarly positive news about the economy as a whole before the majority of Americans feel positive about the economy."
Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC surveyed 1,110 gas customers for NACS from Nov. 5-7.