Report: Gas Prices Forcing Consumers to Reduce Discretionary Spending

Schaumburg, Ill. More and more U.S. consumers are taking steps to compensate for rising gas prices, according to new research from the Nielsen Co. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers are reducing their spending, up 14 points in the last six months.

Consumers also are combining shopping trips (78%), eating out less (52%) and staying home more often (51%), according to Nielsen.

"With gas prices passing the $4 per gallon mark, consumers are altering their driving and spending habits at dramatic levels," said Todd Hale, senior VP, consumer and shopper insights, The Nielsen Co. "While discretionary spending is likely to be a challenge for most low- and middle-income shoppers, even affluent consumers are looking for ways to make their dollars go further."

Increased fuel prices are leading nearly one-third (32%) of consumers to use more coupons, up from 25% in December 2007. Nielsen’s research also shows that more consumers (35%) are buying less expensive brands, up 12 points since December.

The results of the latest Nielsen study are based on a survey of nearly 50,000 consumers nationwide.