Economic News: Half of Americans Have Cut Back on Products and Services Because of High Gas Prices

Industry profits, world oil crude prices and Mideast instability greatest influences on rising gas prices

NEW YORK, June 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — With Memorial Day comes various events that signify the start of summer. These range from the first cook-out to opening the swimming pool to planning summer vacations. It also means the beginning of the summer driving season and higher gas prices are having an impact. Half of Americans who own a vehicle (51%) say they have cut back on products and/or services in order to pay the increased price of gasoline. As might be expected, those with lower household income are more impacted. Almost two-thirds (65%) of those with a household income of less than $35,000 a year have cut back on products or services because of higher gas prices compared to 38% of those who have household income of $100,000 or more.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

There are many things people are cutting back on because of high gas prices. Almost three in ten of those cutting back (28%) have cut back on dining out while one-quarter have cut back on groceries (24%). One in five say they have cut back on entertainment (18%), while others have reduced driving or are staying home more (11%) and cut back on clothing purchases (10%). Some other things people have cut back on include personal grooming such as hair cuts or manicures (6%), auto repairs and upkeep (5%) and movies (5%) while 5% say they have cut back on everything to pay for the increased price of gasoline.

Who can stop rising gas prices?

In looking at who to blame for the rising cost of gasoline, three things seem to stand out as having the most influence on price. Just under one-quarter of Americans (24%) say U.S. oil and natural gas industry profits have had the greatest influence on rising gasoline prices while 22% believe it is the world crude oil prices and 21% believe it’s due to instability in oil producing areas.

So, who can best stop rising gas prices? One-third of Americans (34%) say the oil and gas industry while three in ten (28%) believe the federal government can best stop rising gasoline prices. One in five (19%) believe consumers can stop rising gas prices while 4% say state and local governments, 3% say the automotive industry and 12% are not sure.

Looking specifically at the automotive industry, half of U.S. adults (53%) say American automotive companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build cars that consume less gasoline, while 22% believe that are and 23% say they are not at all sure. This is a large change from 2006 when three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) said American car companies weren’t moving fast enough and only 9% thought they were.

So What?

In May of 1979, one-third of Americans (35%) felt the U.S. auto companies were moving as quickly as they could to build cars that consume less gasoline while 60% felt they were not. Fast forward 31 years, and the situation hasn’t improved much as Americans still don’t feel car companies are moving fast enough. But, with three in five adults (62%) expecting that gas prices on Labor Day will be higher than they are now, it just may be that nothing is fast enough to help ease the pain at the pump.

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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