The cost of gasoline is beginning to have an effect on behavior according to an informal poll being conducted at the Beagle Research blog. Sentiment for three measures of how people use travel has risen and the rise is not necessarily good. According to our poll as the average price for a gallon of regular has risen from $3.51 on March 21 to $3.92 on April 30, (see chart) people appear to be traveling less.
Experts say that four dollars per gallon is a tipping point at which people begin to modify their behavior to deal with escalating costs. According to our poll in March 44 percent said the price of fuel had not affected them yet but by April 30 that figure was down four full points to 40 percent.
People say they are traveling less generally and those who say they are driving less increased by two percentage points. The reductions can come in many forms and doubtless the figures reflect many approaches. Reductions can range from avoiding flights in lieu of web meetings and calls to making fewer trips to the mall. In many cases the reduction frequently reflects a reduction in overall business activity, which is a worrying sign for economic activity.