Throughout the past few months Americans have been hearing a great deal of negative news regarding gas and consumer prices. Recent studies have shown that the current increase in gas prices has “reversed” Americans’ more positive opinions of the economy in the last few months. Thus, a general trend is that consumers tend to express a more negative perception of the economy as gas prices rise.
Additionally, the rise of gas prices has increased Americans’ attention to current news headlines, specifically stories/events that directly effect gas prices. According to Pew Research, consumers have been following the news in Libya more closely than any current headline. The latest interest in Libya arises because of the direct effect the events have had on America’s gas prices. Consequently, the rise of gas prices inspires the public to pay more attention to news stories pertaining to gas prices.
Furthermore, studies indicate that the rise in gas prices may cause a shift in consumer attitudes toward the importance of fuel-efficiency vehicles. The more the gas prices rise, the more likely consumers will begin to take interest in purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles. AutoTrader.com president and chief executive officer Chip Perry explains, “when gas prices rise, interest on our site in smaller/more fuel efficient vehicles increase, when prices go back down shoppers return to their normal shopping habits.” Ultimately, per gallon prices will affect car buyer’s enthusiasm for bigger vehicles next year.
The fact remains that price is central in consumers’ minds. Across all demographics, consumers said that they would change their behavior to save at the pump.