Over Half of Americans Have Cut Back on Products and Services Because of High Gas Prices

NEW YORK , N.Y. – April 12, 2012 – As the calendar inches closer to the end of May, there are various things that Americans start to look forward to. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and with that comes the beginning of the summer driving season. This means that higher gas prices are going to have an impact, not only on driving, but also on other things as well. According to a new Harris Poll over half of Americans who own a vehicle (55%) say they have cut back on products and/or services in order to pay for the increased price of gasoline. As might be expected, those with lower household incomes are more impacted. Two-thirds (67%) 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 37% of those who have a household income of $100,000 or more.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,451 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

There are many things people are cutting back on in order to pay for the increased price of gasoline. Three-quarters of those who have cut back have done so on dining out (75%) and driving in general (73%) while almost two-thirds have cut back on entertainment (65%) and weekend trips or day trips (65%). Three in five have cut back on reducing extras, such as luxury items (62%) and vacations (59%) while over half have cut back on clothing (55%) and movies (54%). Smaller, but still significant, numbers have cut back on groceries (38%), personal grooming, such as haircuts or manicures (37%), and auto repairs or upkeep (24%).

Who gets the blame and who can stop rising gas prices?

In looking at who to blame for the rise in gas prices, over one-third of Americans (37%) say they blame the oil companies the most while one-quarter (25%) blame unrest in the Middle East. Political figures also are blamed by some; 17% blame President Obama the most; 5% blame Republicans in Congress the most; and 4% blame Democrats in Congress the most.

So, who can best stop rising gas prices? Just over one-third of Americans (37%) say the oil and gas industry while three in ten (30%) believe the federal government can best stop rising gasoline prices. Fewer people believe consumers can stop rising gas prices (14%) while 4% say state and local governments can, 2% say the automotive industry, and 14% are not sure.

So What?

Nearly nine-out-of-ten Americans say they expect gas prices to be higher as we enter the summer months. The impact of this kind of price hike is nearly universal and is felt every time an individual gets behind the wheel of their car. Many Americans are making real cuts in their budget to accommodate for the increase in the gas they need to get to work, school and run essential errands, says Sarah Simmons, Senior Research Executive and Thought Leader. As our national economy starts to show signs of recovery, Americans are looking to the federal government and to the oil and natural gas industry to help find workable solutions.

 

 

 

TABLE 1

CUTTING BACK ON PRODUCTS OR SERVICES

Have you cut back on any products or services in order to pay the increased price of gasoline?

Base: Owns a vehicle

Total 2006

Total 2011

Total

2012

Income

$34,999 or less

$35,000 –

$49,999

$50,000 -$74,999

$75,000 – $99,999

$100,000 or more

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

44

51

55

67

65

55

49

37

No

56

49

45

33

35

45

51

63

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

 

 

TABLE 2

PRODUCTS OR SERVICES CUT BACK

What products or services have you cut back on?

Base: Cut back on products or services

Total

%

Dining Out

75

Driving in general

73

Entertainment

65

Weekend trips/day trips

65

Reducing extras, such as luxury items

62

Vacations

59

Clothing

55

Movies

54

Groceries

38

Personal grooming, such as haircuts or manicures

37

Auto repairs/upkeep

24

Something else

11

Note: Multiple responses allowed.


 

 

 

TABLE 3

BLAME FOR RISING GAS PRICES

While all may be somewhat to blame, who or what do you blame most for the recent rise in gas prices?

Base: All adults

Total

Region

East

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

Oil companies

37

34

40

35

42

Unrest in the Middle East

25

29

24

24

24

President Barack Obama

17

7

17

17

14

Republicans in Congress

5

5

6

6

5

Democrats in Congress

4

3

4

4

6

Not at all sure

11

14

10

10

10

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

TABLE 4

WHO/WHAT CAN STOP RISING GAS PRICES

In your opinion, who can best stop rising gasoline prices?

Base: All adults

Total

2006

Total 2011

Total

2012

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

Oil and gas industry

34

34

37

28

47

37

The federal government

29

28

30

41

21

29

Consumers

22

19

14

11

15

15

State and local governments

3

4

4

6

3

3

Automotive industry

3

3

2

1

2

2

Not sure

9

12

14

12

12

13

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

 


 

TABLE 5

GAS PRICES BY LABOR DAY

Thinking ahead to the summer, how do you think gas prices on Memorial Day at the end of May will compare with prices now?

Base: All adults

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Higher (NET)

88

90

88

89

Much Higher

41

46

36

42

Somewhat Higher

47

44

52

47

About the same

9

8

8

8

Lower (NET)

3

2

4

2

Somewhat Lower

3

2

4

2

Much lower

 

 

 

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding. indicated less than 0.5% and – indicates no response

 

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 to 19, 2012 among 2,451 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 2,172 own a vehicle. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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Q755, 758, 760, 763, 765, 770

 

 

The Harris Poll ® #40, April 12, 2012

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

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