NACS: Economic Optimism Hits Record High

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Alexandria, VA — More Americans today are optimistic about the economy than they have been in the nearly four years, according to results of a national consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). Respondents report they intend to drive and spend more over the coming month.

Nearly 59 percent of consumers report feeling optimistic about the economy, a 13-point jump on the prior month, and the highest level of economic optimism reported since the association began tracking the metric in 2013. This lift was noticeable across all demographics and regions and was a stark reversal from each of the past seven months when a majority of American fuel consumers have been pessimistic about the economy, NACS reports.

While the U.S. election results caught the attention of the nation, the association notes, Americans also took notice of declining gas prices. U.S. gasoline consumers report a median gas price of $2.15 per gallon, a five-cent drop from October. Three in four Americans say gas prices impact their feelings about the economy.

Surveyed consumers say they will travel and spend more over the holiday season. A record 28 percent of consumers say they will drive more this coming month, a sharp increase from 20 percent in 2015. In addition, 30 percent say they will increase overall spending in the coming month, another record for this time of year, with 37 percent reporting thay “always” or “sometimes” go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

When asked about the overall economy, consumers say lower gas prices will likely result in them doing more holiday shopping — 24 percent say they will do more compared to 6 percent who say they will do less. Survey respondents also predict 45 percent of overall consumers will shop more this holiday season compared to 7 percent who predict consumers will shop less.

“The positive mood of the country is welcome news for convenience stores, with the increased likelihood of more food and drink sales from happy consumers on the roads over the coming week and into the holiday season,” says Jeff Lenard, NACS vice-president of strategic industry initiatives.

The upswing in economic sentiment goes beyond partisan lines, notes Lenard: “Economic optimism likely surged thanks to a combination of factors: relief over the conclusion of the election, and a more certain political outlook, which in turns has helped the stock market. And there is no question the elevated mood of the nation has been enhanced by the sustained period of lower gas prices.”

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