Who Is $4 Gas Hurting? Starbucks!

A survey by Kelley Blue Book says that new car shoppers are giving up Starbucks to help offset the cost of $4 gas. Sorry, big green mermaid lady! The KBB study results reveal that 28 percent of new-car shoppers have stopped going to Starbucks or other coffee houses entirely, and 21 percent indicate they are going less often due to skyrocketing gas prices.

“What was once a frequent occurrence such as the morning trip to Starbucks or taking the family to a ballgame just isn’t as financially feasible when $4-per-gallon gas must also share a place in the budget,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. “The fact that nearly three-quarters of new-vehicle shoppers see this as a permanent situation demonstrates the enormous effect that skyrocketing fuel costs can have on not just the auto industry, but the entire American economy.”

Not everyone is sad, however. The Toyota Prius is dancing on the grave of the latte (and the Hummer?). KBB says “sixty-two percent of shoppers say that gas prices have either changed their mind or made them think strongly about vehicles they normally wouldn’t have considered.”


(Photo: Paxton Holley )


Edit Your Comment

  1. rdldr1 says:

    I know that Starbucks!

  2. jamesdenver says:

    Isn’t one of the obligatory rules in those dopey “Top ten ways to cut your spending every month” to cut out your daily latte at Starbucks?

  3. jamesdenver says:


    OMG me too! Its the one by all those newspaper boxes. Hey I’m gonna grab a Pennysaver real quick.

  4. sean77 says:

    I would go into that starbucks just so I could ask if they knew where I could get a newspaper.

  5. Gopher bond says:

    @sean77: good one

  6. humphrmi says:

    Ben Bernanke and his predecessor thought / still think that energy inflation is an isolated component of the “big basket”. Despite entry level college econ classes that teach otherwise, they see the effects of energy inflation limited to energy itself, and not affecting the larger economy.

    Hopefully Ben Bernanke is reading this post.

  7. humphrmi says:

    @humphrmi: And in case any of you are wondering what my point is, it’s time to raise interest rates.

  8. backbroken says:

    @humphrmi: College level econ classes? What are you, an elitist?

  9. planet2334 says:

    I never did like coffee. I guess I’m just out of luck, nothing left to cut out of the budget.

  10. Jesse says:

    New strategy: Drop prices and put a location on every corner instead of every other corner to increase volume.

  11. umbriago says:

    I don’t have to worry, there’s a Starbucks in my basement.

  12. trujunglist says:


    Funny, I was thinking the same thing, but only when I saw the Redeye box did it actually confirm my suspicions.

  13. howie_in_az says:

    Starbucks is a fashion botique that markets burnt water as liquid jewelry.

  14. overbysara says:

    said it before and I’ll say it again: buy a scooter! 90 MPG!

  15. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    What a shame.
    Buy good coffee (whole bean Peets?) and brew your own.

  16. parad0x360 says:

    I used to go to Dunkin Donuts twice a day. once in the morning for a hot coffee and once a few hours later for an iced coffee and bagel breakfast sandwich.

    I’ve recently cut out the 2nd trip and if gas keeps going up ill have to quit smoking which just wont make me a happy camper. Its either that or video games…and there is no way im cutting out my only hobby. Damn you to hell oil companies!

  17. katylostherart says:

    i actually make it a point to go to my local coffee shop. it’s not a starbucks and recent pricing (like no more free free refills) has kinda made it obvious they’re having a hard time. i want them to stick around.

  18. spinachdip says:

    I really have nothing substantive to add, but I never connected driving with Starbucks, since I have never, in my life, ever driven or otherwise taken a private vehicle to a Starbucks.

  19. humphrmi says:

    @backbroken: No shit, I learned how energy affects food & leisure in like ECO 101. I guess BB must have been sleeping during that class. Meanwhile us elitists were obviously from families that could afford good caffeine pills.

  20. no.no.notorious says:

    it took $4/gal for people to change their bad daily financial habits? much like $8/pack to quit smoking. my grandpa quit smoking back in the 60s bc the price went from 63 cents -> 66 cents. He’d be having his 5th heart attack if he was still alive to see all this.

  21. Jetgirly says:

    We go to Starbucks MORE because they’re easily accessible by bus or foot, whereas some of the other stuff we like to do, like hiking, requires a long drive to get there. Even here in Mexico I can walk to two Starbucks (and one Star Box Coffee!).

    One of my favorite things to do is watch the original version of The Italian Job and complain about how every place they filmed in that movie was within walking distance of my old apartment. I seriously hope the North American urban planners of days of yore are kicking themselves right now. Also, I hope all the urban planners who continue to build suburbs a billion miles from anywhere all fall in a big hole and get stuck there for a long, long time.

  22. spinachdip says:

    @humphrmi: Wait, I thought Econ was reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’ over and over again.

  23. petrarch1608 says:

    @spinachdip: its not quite that simple. High gas prices are eating away at people’s budgets. People have less disposable income and therefore they drink less coffee

  24. Concerned_Citizen says:

    It sounds like Starbucks is in danger of becoming the next Krispy Kreme.

  25. spinachdip says:

    @petrarch1608: I’m not sure where I’ve simplified anything. I think you misunderstand me – it was more an observation about my own experiences and my apparent disconnect from the majority, since I drive occasionally and I go to Starbucks occasionally, but I have never done the two at the same time.

  26. ChuckECheese says:

    How about if Starbucks starts brewing shredded Escalade tires?

  27. madsuperninja says:

    Bah, good riddance to Starbucks and their burnt water. Just go get Maxwell House french roast, brewed so strong you can barely stand it, and there you go. I guess I just have simpler tastes, every time I go into Starbucks and order a regular coffee they look at me like I’m two seconds from flinging my poo at the walls like the retarded monkey I am.

  28. backbroken says:

    @humphrmi: Yeah, I liked the fed much better when their prime directive was to keep inflation in check, and otherwise get the hell out of the way.

  29. humphrmi says:

    @spinachdip: Econ ain’t got no room for silly Philosophical studies. As geeky as the Econ students were, the Phil students were the ones they laughed at. Those guys were probably reading Atlas Shrugged while we were all arm wrestling over Keynes vs. Friedman.

  30. duffbeer703 says:

    People are stupid.

    If you drive the average (15k miles a year) with a car that gets 20 mpg, $4 gas costs you like $3,000. Not an insignifcant sum, but not the end of the world either.

  31. humphrmi says:

    @Jetgirly: Let me understand this. You’d rather walk to a Starbucks than hike. In Mexico. And yet you blame urban planners for our problems. OKAY.

  32. Oh good, the dredge of society is being hurt by rising gas prices.

    Yep, I am no Starbucks fan.

    But guess what, if Corn prices continue to rise at a rate faster than gas prices there are going to be some serious issues in this country that rival the fun times of 1930-1936.

  33. @duffbeer703:

    The worse part is the fact that gas cost $2250 last year, and increase of $750 in one year, but the whiners will cry over the $3000 gas rather than the $750 increase in one year.

  34. balthisar says:

    @planet2334: I like coffee, and so don’t frequent Starbucks but brew my own, meaning that’s there’s nothing for me to cut from my budget either.

  35. u1itn0w2day says:

    LOL,sorry I couldn’t resist.

    What the heck did people think would happen when you are OVER charging 4 times what it’s worth or the competition is charging.

    Hey,Starbucks cashed in on craze,helped perpetuate it a little longer but now it’s time to pay up and live in reality.They always will have A niche of the luxary coffee market.Starbucks is the Krispy Kreme of the coffee world-for about 2 years they to were all the rage(also over charging,unable to stave off the competition) and now Krispy’s stock is about 1/10 of it’s peak…

    Never got Starbucks;even when I had enough for a visit.

  36. battra92 says:

    @jamesdenver: Isn’t one of the obligatory rules in those dopey “Top ten ways to cut your spending every month” to cut out your daily latte at Starbucks?

    LMAO! So true. Every other week here or at lifehacker we’re told to stop drinking Starbucks and now they blame it on gas prices.

    Also, I hope all the urban planners who continue to build suburbs a billion miles from anywhere all fall in a big hole and get stuck there for a long, long time.

    I’d pay a lot more in gas prices before I ever live in a crowded urban city. Most people would rather live away from it all in quiet.

    I drive 20 miles to work each day and frankly would rather live even more remote at times.

  37. malvones says:

    @duffbeer703: that’s not really the whole picture. what might seem like a relatively manageable increase affects everything else. ergo, the rise in food prices. it’s a catalyst that affects everything else, and ultimately what really matters in a jittery free market system is consumer confidence.. it all rolls up into one fabulous snowball.

  38. Kaisum says:

    If Starbucks wasn’t so fucking expensive they wouldn’t have a problem! Make your own from home, it’s much cheaper and if you screw it up you can just kick your own ass!

  39. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    It’s going to be least-necessary and most expensive things that get cut out of the budget first, so it’s no surprise that $4 coffee drinks are in the top 10.

    The price of just about everything has gone up and wages haven’t, so there you go. Hey, at least my car doesn’t run on Starbucks coffee..that would make $4 a gallon gas seem cheap in comparison.

  40. TangDrinker says:

    Hey Meg, the link to the flickr photograph is missing the htt part of the URL…

  41. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Who cares about Starbucks. These insane gas prices are cutting into my gourmet $5 frozen yogurt and $4 cupcake budget. I guess I can’t buy the new 3G iphone now.

    Oh the horror!


  42. spinachdip says:

    @humphrmi: I actually love the nerdiness of serious economists – my regular readings include the Freakonomics and Kruuuuuuuugman blogs, both of which are chock full of nerdery and humor.

    It’s just that the folks running shit tend to be the Rand-worshiping neo-Libs who view economics more as a religion than a living, breathing slice of reality.

  43. fuchikoma says:


    So if you sell audaciously expensive coffee, the first thing people think of when they want to save a few bucks will be the overpriced coffee they blow so much money on.

  44. RodAox says:

    recently i saw a commercial for a local car dealer and I am not joking this is the statement….

    Two couples outside the dealership: “Yeah the hummer is great, i feel safe in it, its a great value and it gets decent gas mileage so we got two”

    My brain just cant handle the word HUMMER and decent MPG in the same sentence so i think i blacked out for a bit….

  45. CharlesjP says:

    I normally go 3-4 times a week, and that hasn’t changed. Maybe the people in the survey aren’t going because now in addition to a house payment they can’t afford, they now have a high car payment as well.

  46. MT says:

    According to the photographer’s flickr page, that’s a starbucks in Chicago. But it looks just like the one on Hawthorne in Portland! Maybe it’s just all the newspaper boxes out front.

  47. 00447447 says:


    Yes, they all pretty much look alike.

  48. garbagehead says:

    here’s FOX’s coverage of the solution

  49. Buckus says:

    For alot of people, $3000 is one month’s pay. So fuel is costing them 1/12 of their income. If they can cut the daily Starbucks @$5.00 daily and replace it with a $1.00 convenience store coffee, that offsets $1,000 of expenses elsewhere – in this article that expense is gas.

  50. sachyn says:

    Now only two things are possible, either starbucks should arrange for cheaper Gas or Gas station should arrange for free coffee.


  51. fever says:


    A Hummer H3 gets 13-18mpg, which depending on what you are replacing, could be considered “decent” gas mileage. I’ll be getting a different vehicle soon, and because of my lifestyle, and the lifestyle I want to continue to have, I’ll be getting a small SUV that gets maybe 15-20 mpg. No matter what crazy schemes my brother comes up with, there’s no way I can get one surfboard, let alone two, on top of a smart fortwo. And is it just me, or is the fact that it only gets 33-41 mpg just insane? That thing should be getting much better mileage.

  52. RandomHookup says:


    … whereas some of the other stuff we like to do, like hiking, requires a long drive to get there.

    I know it’s accurate, but the concept of driving so you can walk makes my head asplode. Kinda like riding the elevator 5 floors to walk the Stairmaster or driving 5 miles to run 2 miles at the track.

  53. Squeezer99 says:

    you mean some people thought the high gas prices were only temporary? idiots! lol get used to it, high gas prices are here to stay

  54. Red_Eye says:

    Wow was gonna forward a link to the image here to a colleague but the file name wasn’t too good for work environs.

  55. Jetgirly says:

    @humphrmi: To get anywhere where hiking would be an option, I would have to drive for at least an hour- here in Mexico (I’m here for five months for work) or in my Canadian hometown. In Mexico, even going for a pleasant stroll would require driving somewhere fairly far away, as there are NO parks or walking trails anywhere near my house. Now that we’re in the rainy season the air quality isn’t too bad (if you don’t mind the torrential downpours), but earlier in the year there were plenty of days when we were advised to avoid all outdoor activity within the city due to the air. In Canada, I can usually find an okay place to walk without having to drive, but it’s neither strenuous (which is good) or particularly pretty. So yes… there are times I would rather walk to a Starbucks than drive somewhere to go hiking. Would you feel better if I walked to a taco stand or something? Find me a taco stand in Guadalajara serving one vegetarian taco and I’ll happily walk there!

  56. GearheadGeek says:

    So no one noticed they were interviewing people looking to buy new cars?

    If their budgets are being hammered by the cost of energy, perhaps they could save even more money than their starbucks by not buying a new car, the biggest single money throw-away for Americans who aren’t buying overpriced houses in CA.

  57. synergy says:

    Oh good. Maybe they’ll stop building the damn things on every available inch and knocking historical buildings over to put in a damn Starbucks. Overpriced coffee milkshakes.

  58. modenastradale says:


    You know, I just don’t understand all the hoopla about the $4 price tag on a cupcake from Sprinkles. Honestly, the cupcakes are incredibly delicious and quite large. It’s not as if they’re serving up cupcakes you’d make at home with a box of Duncan Hines mix.

    At $4, I think it’s very reasonably priced for an occasional indulgence. And it should be occasional — you shouldn’t be eating dessert every day unless you want to be soft around the middle.

  59. Javarican says:

    Luckily for me, my local starbucks is down the block and I’m selling my car. I have joined the human transportation movement–yay Bikes!

  60. ZukeZuke says:

    Like there isn’t a Starbucks within walking distance of nearly every inhabited point in the U.S.? When I was in Portland, Oregon, I couldn’t believe there was a freakin ‘bucks 1 block away from another one, and then a few blocks from that, there was an intersection with one literally kitty-corner from another one! WTF?!?

    I live in a small bedroom community of 5,000 homes with no industry and Starbucks even built one here. At our local ‘big’ town 12 miles away, there is a Starbucks in a mall directly across from a Barnes & Noble bookstore… which has a Starbucks inside.