When gasoline is most expensive, should you burn more or less of it driving to gas pumps? Showing that consumers aren’t reliably rational actors, a report by The Nielsen Co. (Adweek’s parent) says consumers averaged fewer trips to buy gas last year when prices were at their lowest (1.24 trips per week) than when prices were at their highest (1.3 trips). Naturally, the increased frequency of visits to the gas pump means people are reminded more often of the fact they hate the high prices.
The same report forecasts that, as gas prices keep rising, consumers’ outlays in this category will come to account for 19 percent of their weekly spending. Last year, the figure varied between 12 percent and 16 percent as gas prices fluctuated.
The report notes that some retailers — “especially warehouse clubs and grocers” — are trying to build customer loyalty via low gas prices or gas discounts based on in-store purchases. Convenience stores, meanwhile, “are attracting consumers with a stronger focus on their food-service business and capturing meals that might otherwise go to fast-food and casual-dining restaurants.”