Gas Prices Fuel Shift in Consumer Spending, Entertainment

A study released by the marketing research firm ACNielsen on Tuesday suggests that as gas prices continue to climb, consumers are adapting by changing the ways in which they shop and seek entertainment.

While the report found that poor households have begun using coupons with greater frequency (23 percent as opposed to 14 percent for affluent households), purchasing inexpensive brands of groceries (20 percent versus 10 percent), and selecting lower grades of gasoline (19 percent over 12 percent), it also found that more well-to-do households are buying more and more goods in warehouse club stores (9 percent versus six percent of less wealthy households) and on the Internet (7 percent as opposed to 3 percent).

Although gas prices on average have actually fallen 11.4 cents in the last week to $2.96 a gallon, according a recent Energy Department survey, in many places prices are still well over $3 per gallon--a state of affairs that observers say can't help but impact consumer spending habits, and therefore, where advertising dollars might be most effectively positioned.



"I see this as an opportunity for consumer packaged goods and manufactures of products that are consumed at home," said Todd Hale, ACNielsen senior vice president for Consumer Insights. "The electronics industry--movies, DVDs--for at-home entertaining...(But also) areas around cooking furnishings."

"This is going to continue to be an issue for us for several years until we start investing in alternative energy," Hale said of the proposed shift in spending habits.

The survey queried 37,000 members of ACNielsen's Homescan consumer panel, which currently totals some 91,500 households.

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