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
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 (36%).
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 initiatives.
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 Count.
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 fuels.
"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 (-27 stores).
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.