Rising gas price stokes consumer concern: survey (by Andria Cheng)
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - As gasoline prices rose to an average of $3.80 a gallon, they've become a growing worry among U.S. consumers. Seventy one percent of consumers say higher energy prices could cause them to curb their spending in the coming months, and 47% of them point to higher medical costs, according to a Deloitte survey of 1,050 consumers between March 1 and March 3. As retailers face looming cotton and other costs, 53% of consumers said that new spring merchandise seems to have higher prices. Consumers' spending outlook also has deteriorated, with 58% of them saying they'll spend more or the same this year, down from 63% who said so at this time last year. While the U.S. economy is out of the recession, 43% of consumers believe the economy is still in one, the survey showed. The percentage of shoppers who said stores are giving more value for their money also has declined to 27% from 45%, with 60% of them saying they are searching more online to find the best deal. "Consumers continue to be resilient and give retailers reasons to be optimistic, despite their apparent lack of confidence in the economy," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail sector leader, Deloitte LLP.