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

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – June 2, 2011 – With Memorial Day comes various events that signify the start of summer. These range from the first cook-out to opening the swimming pool to planning summer vacations. It also means the beginning of the summer driving season and higher gas prices are having an impact. Half of Americans who own a vehicle (51%) say they have cut back on products and/or services in order to pay the increased price of gasoline. As might be expected, those with lower household income are more impacted. Almost two-thirds (65%) 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 38% of those who have household income of $100,000 or more.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    There are many things people are cutting back on because of high gas prices. Almost three in ten of those cutting back (28%) have cut back on dining out while one-quarter have cut back on groceries (24%). One in five say they have cut back on entertainment (18%), while others have reduced driving or are staying home more (11%) and cut back on clothing purchases (10%). Some other things people have cut back on include personal grooming such as hair cuts or manicures (6%), auto repairs and upkeep (5%) and movies (5%) while 5% say they have cut back on everything to pay for the increased price of gasoline.

    Who can stop rising gas prices?

    In looking at who to blame for the rising cost of gasoline, three things seem to stand out as having the most influence on price. Just under one-quarter of Americans (24%) say U.S. oil and natural gas industry profits have had the greatest influence on rising gasoline prices while 22% believe it is the world crude oil prices and 21% believe it’s due to instability in oil producing areas.

    So, who can best stop rising gas prices? One-third of Americans (34%) say the oil and gas industry while three in ten (28%) believe the federal government can best stop rising gasoline prices. One in five (19%) believe consumers can stop rising gas prices while 4% say state and local governments, 3% say the automotive industry and 12% are not sure.

    Looking specifically at the automotive industry, half of U.S. adults (53%) say American automotive companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build cars that consume less gasoline, while 22% believe that are and 23% say they are not at all sure. This is a large change from 2006 when three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) said American car companies weren’t moving fast enough and only 9% thought they were.

    So What?

    In May of 1979, one-third of Americans (35%) felt the U.S. auto companies were moving as quickly as they could to build cars that consume less gasoline while 60% felt they were not. Fast forward 31 years, and the situation hasn’t improved much as Americans still don’t feel car companies are moving fast enough. But, with three in five adults (62%) expecting that gas prices on Labor Day will be higher than they are now, it just may be that nothing is fast enough to help ease the pain at the pump.

     

     

    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

    Income

    $34,999 or less

    $35,000 –

    $49,999

    $50,000 -$74,999

    $75,000 – $99,999

    $100,000 or more

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Yes

    44

    51

    65

    55

    46

    56

    38

    No

    56

    49

    35

    45

    54

    44

    62

    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

    28

    Groceries

    24

    Entertainment

    18

    Reduce driving/stay home more

    11

    Clothing

    10

    Personal grooming (haircuts, manicures)

    6

    Everything

    5

    Auto repairs/upkeep

    5

    Movies

    5

    Weekend trips/travel

    3

    Shopping

    3

    Reduce extras, leisure or luxury items

    3

    Fast food/junk food

    3

    Gasoline

    2

    Vacations

    1

    Utilities

    1

    Note: Open-ended question, multiple responses allowed.


     

     

    TABLE 3

    CAR COMPANIES AND NEW AUTOS

    Do you think that American automobile companies are moving as quickly as they should to build automobiles that consume less gasoline?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    1979

    Total

    2006

    Total

    2011

    Echo Boomers (18-34)

    Gen X

    (35-46)

    Baby Boomers

    (47-65)

    Matures

    (66+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Yes, they are moving as quickly as they should

    35

    9

    22

    26

    20

    21

    22

    No, they’re not moving as quickly as they should

    60

    74

    53

    50

    51

    56

    57

    Not Sure

    5

    17

    23

    22

    28

    22

    20

    Decline to answer

    1

    1

    2

    1

     

     

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

    In 1979, the question was asked by phone and the question text was Do you think the American automobile companies are moving as quickly as they can to build automobiles that consume less gasoline or not? and the response choices were Moving as quickly as they can and Not moving as quickly as they can.

     

     

    TABLE 4

    INFLUENCES ON RISING GAS PRICES

    Which one of the following has had the greatest influence on rising gasoline prices?

    Base: All adults

    Total 2006

    Total 2011

    Region

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    U.S. oil and natural gas industry profits

    39

    24

    19

    21

    25

    31

    World crude oil prices

    27

    22

    21

    25

    23

    21

    Instability in oil producing areas

    7

    21

    22

    20

    22

    18

    Federal and state taxes

    6

    7

    9

    6

    7

    5

    Last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, sometimes called the Deepwater Horizon Blast

    NA

    4

    3

    5

    5

    4

    Upcoming changes in fuel requirements (such as the addition of ethanol into gasoline)

    2

    2

    2

    1

    3

    2

    Other refining costs

    2

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    Others

    12

    18

    25

    20

    14

    19

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding. NA signifies that the response option was not asked in that poll.


     

    TABLE 5

    WHO/WHAT CAN STOP RISING GAS PRICES

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

    Base: All adults

    Total

    2006

    Total 2011

    Generation

    Echo Boomers

    (18-34)

    Gen X

    (35-46)

    Baby Boomers

    (47-65)

    Matures

    (66+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Oil and gas industry

    34

    34

    36

    32

    31

    39

    The federal government

    29

    28

    25

    33

    30

    24

    Consumers

    22

    19

    16

    15

    23

    22

    State and local governments

    3

    4

    6

    4

    3

    2

    Automotive industry

    3

    3

    4

    4

    1

    1

    Not sure

    9

    12

    12

    12

    12

    11

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

     

     

     

    TABLE 6

    GAS PRICES BY LABOR DAY

    Thinking ahead to the end of summer, how do you think gas prices on Labor Day in September will compare with prices now?

    Base: All adults

    Total 2006

    Total 2011

    %

    %

    Higher (NET)

    75

    62

    Much Higher

    31

    25

    Somewhat Higher

    45

    37

    About the same

    17

    22

    Lower (NET)

    7

    17

    Somewhat Lower

    6

    15

    Much lower

    1

    1

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

     

     

     

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,882 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.

    J40013

    Q955, 958, 960, 965, 970, 975, 980

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #67, June 2, 2011

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

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.