American new-car shoppers say gas prices affecting consumer spending

Mumbai: According to a Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study, elevating gas prices have in-market new-car shoppers considering vehicles they would have otherwise ignored.

The February 2008 results of the study reveal that almost two-thirds, that is around 64 per cent of shoppers, have changed their minds or are now evaluating vehicles they normally would not have considered before.

Established in 1926, Kelley Blue Book has provided vehicle buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information they need. The company's website provides up-to-date pricing and values. The company also reports vehicle pricing and values via products and services. Nearly one in every three American car buyers is said to rely on the company's website for pre-purchase research.

During the last week, oil jumped to a record $102 a barrel, signalling a possible price hike at the gas station over the next few weeks. Nearly 32 per cent of new-vehicle shoppers in the Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study claim that if gas prices jump even 25 cents, they will begin looking at more fuel-efficient vehicles.

In addition, shoppers have made adjustments in their personal purchasing habits to offset heavy gas charges. The Kelley Blue Book study shows that 50 per cent reported less shopping of non-essential retail items, compared to 44 per cent who claim they will eat out less often, 40 per cent who plan to purchase fewer media entertainment items, and nine per cent of new-car shoppers who intend to delay the purchase of a new home due to the rise in gas prices.

"Consumers continue to look for ways to tackle the gasoline price issue, and this study shows they are willing to make alterations in their shopping habits and lifestyles to balance their expenses," said Jack R Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Technologies that offer better fuel economy, like the gasoline-electric hybrid, are being offered in more models, and other technologies like 'clean diesel' are waiting in the wings, helping shoppers revaluate their purchase decisions to find better fuel economy."