Survey: Gas Prices Spur Consumers to Rethink Spending

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Consumers are making difficult choices to offset the rising cost of driving.

That was a key finding from BIGresearch's June Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, released yesterday.

Fluctuating gasoline prices have affected the spending of 75.3 percent of the nearly 7,500 respondents.

Consumers with incomes above and below $50,000 listed driving, dining out and vacation/travel as the top areas affected. Both groups also indicated that inflated gas prices have caused them to spend less on clothes and groceries as well as delay major purchases such as a car, electronics or furniture.

The report called the results a red flag for business and retail.

Only 28 percent of men and 25 percent of women surveyed planned to research airline rates and availability online in the next three months, compared with 41 percent of men and 25 percent of women in 2004. Other findings:

* The top online travel searches are for driving instructions, with weather and temperature patterns and lodging information next.

* 19 percent of surveyed men and 15 percent of women said they would book airline tickets online in the next three months. About 17 percent of the men and 14 percent of the women planned to book motels, hotels and other lodging.

* About 10 percent of all consumer travel arrangements are influenced by promotional e-mails from airlines, hotels and travel Web sites.

Promotional e-mails are used most effectively by airlines, and they register more success among men than women. Some 66 percent of men versus 59 percent of women said these messages had influenced their travel in the past six months.

Hotels using e-mail promotions were more likely to entice women (38 percent) than men (28 percent). Travel Web sites also fared better with women than men: 45 percent versus 31 percent, respectively.

BIGresearch, Columbus, OH, is a market intelligence firm providing analysis of consumer behavior in areas of retail, financial services, automotive and media.

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