NEW YORK — 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.
“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 1CUTTING 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|
|$34,999 or less||$35,000 –$49,999||$50,000 –$74,999||$75,000 – $99,999||$100,000 or more|
|Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.|
|TABLE 2PRODUCTS OR SERVICES CUT BACK“What products or services have you cut back on?”|
|Base: Cut back on products or services|
|Driving in general||73|
|Weekend trips/day trips||65|
|Reducing extras, such as luxury items||62|
|Personal grooming, such as haircuts or manicures||37|
|Note: Multiple responses allowed.|
|TABLE 3BLAME 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|
|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 4WHO/WHAT CAN STOP RISING GAS PRICES“In your opinion, who can best stop rising gasoline prices?”|
|Base: All adults|
|Total2006||Total 2011||Total2012||Political Party|
|Oil and gas industry||34||34||37||28||47||37|
|The federal government||29||28||30||41||21||29|
|State and local governments||3||4||4||6||3||3|
|Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.|
|TABLE 5GAS 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|
|About the same||9||8||8||8|
|Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.* indicated less than 0.5% and “-” indicates no response|
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.
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
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 and European 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.