Gas Up, Spending Down

A new study by Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen Co. found that half (49%) of U.S. consumers are reducing spending to combat high gas prices—and restaurants may feel the greatest pinch.

Of the 26,000 consumers surveyed from coast to coast, 41% are responding to inflated fuel costs by eating out less; this number is up three points (from 38%) from six months earlier. Thir ty-one percent of consumers are reducing their spending to a small degree, and 18% are reducing their spending to a great degree.

“Our research shows consumers are adjusting their spending to a significant degree in order to counterbalance rising gas prices,” said Todd Hale, senior VP of consumer shopping and insights, Nielsen Consumer Panel Services. “Large numbers of consumers eating out less and staying home more often signal a tough year for some restaurants.…”

The largest percentage of those surveyed (70%) have developed a combining-errand tactic for battling higher gas prices, planning their routes carefully and running mu l t iple errands at once. Supercenter s, mega-stores and big-box stores stand to benefit the most from these strategies, where more items needed are in one store.

Increased fuel prices are resulting in more coupon clipping, with 25% of consumers using coupons to save money, up from 20% in June 2007.