Why Lower Gas Prices Are Really Good For Restaurants

When gasoline prices fall, that means that consumers who drive have more money to spend on things other than fuel. The JPMorgan Chase Institute, a global economics think tank affiliated with the bank, analyzed their customer credit and debit card data to figure out what we did with all of those savings. It may not surprise you that most of it didn’t go into our retirement accounts.

The JPMorgan Chase Institute did all kinds of interesting number-crunching on how spending on gas varies by region and how the habits of customers changed according to the total they normally spend on gas, but there are two interesting trends that apply to people of all incomes and regions.

First, we spent about 80% of the money saved because of cheaper gas on other stuff. The biggest spending category was non-durable goods, which means items that you keep for less than 3 years: think a new shirt, an iPhone, or a pack of paper towels. People spent about 33% of their income on those, and about 32% on services. Meanwhile, restaurant spending, a separate category, gobbled 18% of Chase customers’ gas savings.

Lower gas prices also meant that motorists spent more on gas. Yes, this is because people tend to carpool or combine trips when gas is pricey. However, the New York Times brought in data from another study at a gas-selling retailer that showed how gasoline spending changed as prices fell: more people bought premium gasoline.

When Gas Becomes Cheaper, Americans Buy More Expensive Gas [The Upshot]