How Ordinary People Are Fighting High Gas Prices
Gas prices have been falling steadily since hitting a record high in early March, but that doesn’t mean gas is cheap.
Prices have recently increased fastest pace ever recorded, and as of Monday, the average gallon of regular gasoline cost $4.09, up $1.22 from a year ago. In all likelihood, gasoline will remain expensive throughout the spring and summer. Naturally, drivers are looking for creative ways to save.
Gasoline is one of the most common purchases among Americans, and prices are often a priority as drivers see them posted at gas stations everywhere they go.
While inflation because many goods can sometimes sneak up on consumers, a rapid rise in gasoline prices will rarely escape anyone’s attention. This includes politicians, who have been suspend gasoline taxes and even considering stimulus checks for high gas prices in some states. Everyday drivers are noticing this too, of course, and many are taking steps to cope with this new normal.
There are many classic strategies to help you save money on gasincluding properly inflating your tires, paying with the best credit card for gas rewards and using apps to find the cheapest gas prices nearby.
You can also save money by ditching the car altogether or simply committing to using it less often. Here are some of the ways people are changing their habits in light of high gas prices:
More walking and cycling
In a recent Morning consultation survey, 44% of respondents said they walked instead of drove in the past month due to high gas prices. Another 18% said they jumped on a bike as an alternative to driving.
Walking and cycling are healthy, affordable alternatives to sitting in a car. They are also more pleasant modes of transport now that spring has arrived.
Go electric (scooters and cars)
Naturally, interest in electric cars and scooters, as well as battery-powered e-bikes, grew as gasoline prices rose more and more.
Research “electric cars” on Google rose steadily over the past year and into 2022, before hitting a record high in March when gasoline prices hit their own records. Shoppers searching for electric vehicles on Cars.com increased 173% from late February to late March, the company said in a press release.
Overall, car sales were slow at the start of 2022 due to low inventory levels linked to ongoing supply chain issues, as well as extreme high prices for new and used vehicles look alike. But electric cars are selling very well: Tesla sales have been up 42% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2022 in the United States and now account for 22% of the luxury vehicle market.
The hunt for e-bikes and e-scooters from brands like Bird is also on the rise, as the the wall street journal and others have reported.
Use public transportation
While it’s common for gas prices to fluctuate, public transit costs experience much less of a spike. In other words, tickets for buses, trains, subways and light rail systems are an even more frugal option these days.
Unsurprisingly, there are signs that people are using public transport more recently. Tri-Rail commuter rail ridership in South Florida hit a recent high at almost exactly the same time gasoline prices peaked in early March, according to the local TV station. WPTV reported. The Washington, D.C. Metro and San Francisco BART transit systems have also “seen a slight increase in ridership since the beginning of March,” according to Market.
In the same Morning Consult survey mentioned above, 15% of drivers said they used public transportation instead of an automobile last month because of gas prices.
Fill up more often (but buy less gas)
Overall, gas demand in the United States has remained virtually unchanged as gas prices have climbed. The amount of money drivers spent on each visit to the pump also remained the same. For drivers, that means filling up at a gas station pays for fewer miles on the road.
Quoting an analysis from RBC Capital, Bloomberg reported late last month that the average American puts $27.50 worth of gas in their car per visit to the gas station, regardless of gas prices. Naturally, when gas prices are higher, customers end up walking away with less gas in the tank. As a result, drivers would visit gas stations 22% more often as gas prices rise above $4 a gallon.
Shop less (but buy more)
Retailers are carefully monitoring customer foot traffic, and plenty of research shows people are visiting stores less often since gas prices hit record highs in 2022.
During the week of March 7, when the national average hit $4.33 per gallon, U.S. stores experienced “the most severe decline in weekly retail traffic in the past twelve months that was not directly linked to waves of COVID or changes in the holiday calendar”, the analysis firm Placer.ai found.
The major grocery chains, such as Albertson, also noticed that customers visited the store less often. People aren’t necessarily spending less on groceries, but they’re probably making fewer rounds of food and buying more on each trip.
Take advantage of free gas promotions
Some restaurants and businesses lure customers with the promise of free gas.
Bojangles, a fast-food chain with locations primarily in the South, launched a promotion in early April giving $10 gas gift cards with the purchase of a family meal.
Krispy Kreme takes an even more original approach: every Wednesday until May 4, you can get a dozen donuts for the same price as the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline. (Just over $4 at the time of this writing.)
Random gas giveaways have also been popping up across the country, with churches, nonprofits, radio stations and local politicians launching short-lived free gas promotions in places like Jacksonville. , Philadelphia, Chicago and Houston.
Cancellation or modification of road trips
New research shows Americans are watching gas prices closely and considering changing or canceling travel plans if prices don’t stabilize.
According to a March poll of AAA59% of drivers said they would change their driving habits if gasoline cost more than $4 a gallon.
That likely means fewer car trips this summer, according to fitch reviews. In a recent note, the rating agency said money raised on toll roads tends to level off with each spike in gasoline prices.
“High gas prices generally have the biggest effect on leisure traffic, as drivers tend to make fewer or shorter trips,” the agency said.
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