The recent increase in gasoline prices doesn’t appear to be deterring members and others from buying cars.
That’s according to analysis from Money Anxiety Index, which measures economic indicators that impact consumer behavior.
From December 2009 to December 2011, gas prices more than doubled from a national average of $1.59 to $3.21 per gallon according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration cited by MAI. During the same time period, auto sales increased by 25.3% from $52 billion to $65 billion per month according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Census Bureau, also cited by the index.
“Thus far, there is no evidence the increase in gasoline prices in the last two years has adversely impacted any major retail category,” said Dan Geller, chief research officer at MAI in San Francisco. “However, this does not mean that at some price point, gasoline price will not have a negative impact on retail sales. What is this price point? Time will tell.”
Auto sales are not the only major retail category that experienced large increases in sales despite the doubling of the gas prices, according to MAI. Non-store retails, such as online and mail order stores, increased their monthly sales by 26.4% over the last two years. Building material stores were up by 18.6%, jewelry stores increased by 14.1% and restaurants and bars were also up by 12.6%.