Consumers have Little Optimism as
even though Gas Prices Are Falling
ALEXANDRIA, VA — Optimism about the economy plunged to its
lowest level in almost a year even though gas prices fell 19 cents last month
and are at their lowest level in seven years. Overall, consumer optimism fell
three points to 44%, the lowest percentage of Americans who feel positive about
the economy since March 2015, according to the results of a new consumer survey
released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
Millennials are the only group in which a majority feel
positive about the economy; 52% of those ages 18-34 report being optimistic
compared to just two in five (39%) of those age 50 or higher. Four in five
millennials (79%) also say that gas prices affect their economic sentiment,
compared to only three in five (62%) of those age 50 or older.
Lower gas prices don’t appear to be translating into
increased driving or spending. Only one in six consumers (16%) say that they
will be driving more over the next month, the lowest level in three years. And
only one in five consumers (21%) say they will spend more this month.
Millennials are the most likely to increase their driving (30%) and spending
Consumers clearly have noticed lower gas prices. Three in
four (74%) Americans say that gas prices are lower this month, the highest
percentage noticing lower prices since December 2014. And two in three (65%) drivers think that gas
prices in 30 days will be about the same or lower.
“Consumers are very aware of lower gas prices but it isn’t
translating into positive feelings about the economy. We will be closely
watching how the petroleum industry’s spring transition to summer-blend fuels
could affect gas prices, consumer sentiment and spending over the next few
months,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry
Also from the NACS:
ALEXANDRIA, VA - The U.S. convenience store count increased
to 154,195 stores as of December 31, 2015, a 0.9% increase (1,401 stores) from
the year prior, according to the 2016 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store
Within the retail universe that Nielsen tracks, convenience
stores account for 34.2% of all outlets in the United States, which is
significantly higher than the U.S. total of other retail channels including
superettes, supermarket and supercenters (51,055 stores), drug stores (41,969
stores) and dollar stores (27,378 stores).
Overall, 80.7% of convenience stores (124,374) sell motor
"Our continued growth shows that our industry’s core
offer of convenience resonates with time-starved customers, whether they are
searching for a fuel fill-up, a quick and healthy snack, a refreshing drink or
for fill-in groceries or take-out meals,” NACS Chairman Jack Kofdarali,
president of Corona, California-based J&T Management Inc.
The convenience retailing industry continues to be dominated
by single-store operators, which account for 63.1% of all convenience stores
(97,359 stores total) and 74.3% of store growth in 2015.
Among the states, Texas continues to lead in store count
with 15,607 stores. The rest of the top 10 states for convenience stores are
California (11,540), Florida (9,909), New York (8,446), Georgia (6,765), North
Carolina (6,330), Ohio (5,605), Michigan, (4,880), Illinois (4,732) and
Pennsylvania (4,706), the same top 10 as 2015. All states experienced
year-over-year increases with the exception of Georgia (-1 store) and Michigan
The bottom three states in terms of store count are Alaska
(206 stores), Wyoming (357) and Delaware (350).
The convenience retailing industry has roughly doubled in
size over the last three decades. At year-end 1985, the store count was 90,900
stores, at year-end 1995 the store count was 101,100 stores and at year-end
2005 the store count was 140,665 stores.