U.S. consumers are cautious about spending their windfall from cheap gasoline and are saving more, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll and official data, suggesting low oil prices are less of a boon for the U.S. economy than in the past.
Commerce Department data shows that the crude’s 70 percent drop since mid-2014 cut households’ annual spending on gasoline and other energy products by $115 billion, equivalent to roughly 0.5 percent of gross domestic product.
At the same time, however, savings increased by $121 billion and while the data gives no indication where the money has come from, the survey suggests the windfall accounted for a significant part of the sum.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll shows 75 percent of 3,068 Americans who answered questions on gasoline savings said the extra money helped them cover basic needs and the majority have not used their windfall to buy big ticket items. Over 40 percent of respondents said the savings had helped them pay down debts, according to the Jan. 15-27 online poll, which had a credibility interval of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.