Grocery Store Is Most Likely Place to Spend Gas Savings

Groceries are the top item on which U.S. consumers are spending their savings from lower gas prices, ahead of putting the money in savings and paying off credit cards, according to the results of nationwide research from retail analytics firm Precima.

Of the 3,013 consumers who were asked to choose from a list of ways they use money saved on gas, 48% said they're spending it on groceries, followed by saving (42%), holiday gift buying (37%), paying off credit cards (30%), entertainment (10%) and other (14%).

Since mid-July 2008 when the pump price of gasoline hit a record high over $4 a gallon, prices have dropped 57%.

The gas-to-groceries switch is even higher in certain key sectors. Among those survey respondents who said they've suffered a direct financial loss during the recession, 55% said they're spending gas savings on groceries, and for those whose annual income is under $35,000 the number is 59%.

Conversely, 34% of retirees said they're spending gas savings on groceries. The number fell to 29% for those whose annual income exceeds $100,000.

In another finding from the survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents said the recession is changing the way they plan their grocery trips, particularly in regards to pantry-loading. No less than 27% of consumers said they can no longer afford to stock up on food and now buy only what they need week to week. Another 35% said they stock up more than they used to, but only when items are on sale.

Of the 65% of respondents who said their stocking habits have changed, 5% said they stock up more, 54% said they stock up only when items are on sale, and 41% no longer stock up at all.
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