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Survey: Economic blues won't keep some drivers off roads

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(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency photo)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 11, 2014) — Some Americans plan to drive more this summer despite a continuing dismal view of the economy, according to a survey of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

About 22 percent of consumers surveyed, including 40 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds, said they will drive more over the next 30 days, according the latest monthly NACS Consumer Fuels Survey that examines how gas prices affect consumer sentiment.

Those percentages are the highest measured since NACS initiated the survey in January 2013 and is 5 percentage points higher than in June 2013.

“Consumers aren’t letting their concerns about the economy affect their summer travel plans,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “But while they will be travelling more this summer, it remains to be seen for businesses whether they will be spending more or if they will be more budget conscious.”

Overall, 39 percent of consumers surveyed said they are optimistic about the economy, a drop from 44 percent two months prior, marking the lowest level of consumer optimism so far this year, according to the survey.

 Consumers ages 35-49 were the most optimistic, bucking a trend in which younger consumers, ages 18-34, have been the most optimistic, the NACS said.

About 88 percent of the survey respondents said that gas prices affect their feelings about the economy, but gas prices have decreased nearly 2 cents per gallon over the past month, according to NACS.

Consumers also are reporting that their vehicles are more fuel efficient. Self-reported miles per dollar, which examines prices and efficiency, increased 4.9 percent in June to 6.63 miles per dollar, the NACS said.

The report involved 1,110 gas customers surveyed online June 2-4. The Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) weekly national average price for gas was $3.664 on June 2, the week in which the survey was fielded.

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