(New York, NY): Most consumers have more money in their pockets thanks to lower gas prices, but younger people are more likely to spend their savings, according to research from Cardbeat®, Auriemma Group’s syndicated research publication. In a survey of 421 U.S. credit cardholders, one-third (34%) of consumers under age 45 say they’re now considering making previously postponed purchases, compared to just 20% among their older counterparts.
Many consumers’ personal finances are buoyed by lower oil prices. Close to two-thirds (62%) of drivers say they’re spending less on gas than they were a year ago, and 88% cite the lower cost of gas compared to a year ago. Yet caution permeates consumer behavior and varies considerably by age group. Consumers aged 45 and older, who remember rising gas prices during the OPEC oil embargo and Gulf War years, are more likely to see low fuel prices as a temporary phenomenon. Cardbeat data shows individuals aged 45 and older are more pessimistic in their outlook for the price of fuel going into the future, with 69% feeling the price of gas will go up in the next year, as opposed to 59% among respondents under age 45.
Major card payments networks validate that the impact of lower gas prices on card spending has been modest so far. For example, in January 2015, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga told investors in the company’s quarterly earnings call, “We haven’t [yet] seen the extra savings from lower gas prices translate into additional discretionary consumer spending.”
The consensus among many economists is that we could start witnessing more discretionary credit card spending this summer (barring any unforeseen increases in gas prices). Marianne Berry, Managing Director of the Payment Insights practice at Auriemma, says that merchants would still be wise to presume a cautious consumer would be the rule for the foreseeable future, and target their promotions to the younger consumers who would most likely be receptive to such offers.
She adds that certain merchant categories, most notably restaurants, are likely to be the first beneficiaries of any incremental spending. “Consumers anticipate their highest increases in spending will be on food and dining over the next year” said Ms. Berry. ”After restaurants, retail in general, particularly fashion and electronics, are likely beneficiaries of discretionary spend among Millennials and Gen Xers.”
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