The Kelley Blue Book seems to track nearly everything related to cars and transportation. We recently became aware that a new KBB survey indicated that consumers are changing their car-buying habits because of high fuel prices. Not every purchaser is choosing as efficient a vehicle as they could, to be sure. According to KBB's latest survey, new car buyers are spending less on non-essential activities, like going to the movies, eating out and even purchasing new homes, all because of those same high gas prices. This data seems to indicate that it's not just the automotive industry feeling the pain -- the entire economy is at the mercy of petroleum.
Only twenty-two percent of respondents indicate that high gas prices are not affecting their spending habits at all. One bit of good news is that carpooling and other alternative transportation methods are on the rise, which should result in some reduction of vehicle emissions. Still, the five-percent increase cited since October of last year indicates that the public still has a long way to go before carpooling or mass-transit becomes a serious option in our collective minds.

Press Release:

Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research Shows New-Car Shoppers Cutting Back on Other Discretionary Purchases

IRVINE, Calif., April 24 According to the latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study (http://www.kbb.com), the number of new-car shoppers adjusting their spending habits due to increasing gas prices has reached a record high. The April 2008 results revealed that 65 percent of shoppers are spending less on non-essential retail items as a result of high gas prices, compared to 42 percent just six months ago in October 2007. Additionally, 53 percent indicated they eat out less often, 48 percent purchase fewer media entertainment items, 15 percent carpool or find alternative means of transportation and 10 percent have delayed purchasing a new home. Furthermore, the portion of shoppers who say they will not change their spending habits due to gas prices has decreased from 43 percent in October 2007 to 22 percent in April 2008.

Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research
Gas Prices and Shopping Habits - Trending Over Time*

Purchase/Shopping Habits Oct Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr Change from Oct

Eat out less often 38% 41% 41% 44% 51% 53% +15
Carpool or find alternative
means of transportation 10% 11% 11% 10% 12% 15% +5
Delay purchase of new home 5% 11% 8% 9% 10% 10% +5
Less shopping of
non-essential retail items 42% 46% 50% 50% 61% 65% +23
Purchase fewer media
entertainment items 33% 36% 34% 40% 45% 48% +15
Will not change any
spending habits 43% 36% 35% 34% 25% 22% -21

* November 2007 data not available

Many contributing economic factors have been detrimental to consumers and their shopping and purchase decisions in the last few months. During the third week of April, the price of oil jumped to nearly $120 a barrel and forecasts have speculated gas will cost an average of $4 per gallon in some parts of the country during the coming summer months. With this in mind, consumers are considering more fuel-efficient vehicles. The April 2008 Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study showed that 47 percent of new-car shoppers would seriously consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle if gas prices increase another $0.25 or less, compared to 26 percent in October 2007.

"The effect gas prices have on consumer spending and shopping behaviors indicate how important fuel costs are to the economy," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue
Book and kbb.com. "Gas prices are already affecting vehicle sales in every segment, and traditional sport utility vehicles have been especially hard hit. Other industries will feel the pinch as consumers cut out life's little luxuries like clothes, eating out and entertainment just so they can pay the fuel bills."

The latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study was conducted on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com among 2,020 in-market new-vehicle shoppers during April 2008.

[Source: Kelley Blue Book]

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