Do gas prices, inflation cause people to cancel summer travel plans?

A majority of Utah residents are now considering downsizing or postponing summer travel plans in the face of ongoing inflationary pressures and record-high gas prices, according to new poll data.

And the survey results are in line with local and national consumer measures, which reached an all-time low in June in terms of the collective view of economic conditions.

A nationwide Deseret News / Hinckley Institute of Politics poll of 808 registered voters conducted 16-29. June found that gas prices and inflation are the most important considerations in deciding whether or not to travel in the next three months.

Polls_7_07_22_2.jpg

Gas prices were ranked at the top for 53% of respondents, and inflation was the biggest concern for 41% of pollsters. Covid-19 case levels and hotel availability were each rated by 18% of respondents, although almost a third indicated that the ongoing pandemic was not an assessment in their decision to travel.

The new poll data, collected by Dan Jones & Associates, comes with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.45 percentage points.

US inflation rates fell briefly in April, but shot back to a 40-year high of 8.6% in May, according to the latest consumer price index report from the US Department of Labor.

Mountain West states, which include Utah, continued to have some of the highest regional inflation in the country, with average commodity prices rising 9.4% in May, down from the April 9.8% rise.

US consumers now pay for groceries, which is up 11.9% compared to last year, gas, which is up 48.7% compared to 2021 and housing expenses, which have increased by 5.5% since May 2021.

Prices of new and used cars also continue to rise, up 12.6% and 16.1% respectively.

America’s fierce inflation is putting severe pressure on families, forcing them to pay much more for food, gas and rent, and reducing their ability to afford discretionary things, from haircuts to electronics to vacations. Especially Americans with lower incomes and blacks and Hispanics struggle because a larger proportion of their income on average is consumed by necessities.

And while the national average price of gas has fallen in recent weeks since reaching $ 5 a gallon nationally last month, Utah drivers continue to face record prices for their local pumps.

On Friday, AAA reported that the average US price per gallon is now $ 4.72 per gallon, down from a record high of $ 5.02 per gallon in mid-June. In Utah, the average price per gallon on Friday came in at $ 5.22, just a few cents down from the state’s record high of $ 5.26 set on July 1.

And data collected in the new Deseret News survey found that Utahns feel the extra cost in ways that lead to changes in their summer itineraries.

When asked by pollsters how current gas prices affect their travel plans this summer, 47% said they were likely to take fewer trips, 31% said shorter trips were in order, 17% said they were likely to postpone planned trips. trips and 11% said they would probably cancel summer trips.

Polls_7_07_22_3.jpg

Phil Dean, senior economist at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, reviewed the results of the poll and said that responses from Utah consumers are consistent with the kind of behavioral changes economists expect to see among the prices of consumer goods and services that have skyrocketed. recent months.

“It’s not a surprise to see how higher prices directly affect how Utah residents think about summer travel plans,” Dean said. “The cost of basic necessities is rising, and these are the areas we really feel the most. Every time you are at the pump, you get a reminder of where things are. ”

Dean also noted that a recent measure of consumer sentiment in the state reflects some of the same concerns that Utahn shared in the new Deseret News poll.

Junidata collected by the Gardner Institute found that consumer sentiment in Utah fell nearly five points from May to June when asked about the state’s short-term economic outlook at 64.4, the lowest target since the monthly survey began in 2020. And utahs are still less optimistic given the country’s economic outlook, which received a confidence rating of 54.1 in June.

A similar study from the University of Michigan found a larger decline in sentiment during June among Americans as a whole. June’s national consumer sentiment index reflects the lowest reading in the Michigan survey’s 70-year history.

“Not surprisingly, consumers of all backgrounds remain very frustrated with high inflation. In fact, some under 40 have not seen such high rates in their lifetime,” Dean said in a statement on the sentiment report. “This high inflation includes many everyday items, including $ 5. per gallon of gasoline and high food prices. Persistently high prices force consumers to reorient their short-term thinking about current purchases and wages and sow the seeds of uncertainty about the long-term future. “

While some economists predict that the United States is approaching a period of recession, Dean says he still has some optimism that it can be avoided, noting that there are some signs that price pressure is easing.

Dean is also optimistic, with some reservations, about the ability of the state’s overall economy to withstand a further downturn, should one be about to come.

“Utah is still very well placed from an economic point of view,” he said. “We are not an island, and national and global economic conditions affect us. But we still have a lot of growth potential ahead of us and a young, well-educated population, in relatively many places. And we have lower costs of doing business.

“My biggest concern in the short and long term regarding the path to our state economy is affordable housing, and making sure we get it taken care of.”