Friday, June 20, 2008

Not even the 4th of July is safe from high gas prices

It's time once again for another edition of: Signs that the economy is bad. I am telling you people, we can make this go on and on. Once again, the fine folks of the National Retail Federation have commissioned another survey on the sentiments of people. This time they look at the impact that the high gas prices will have on the big summer celebration of Independence Day (also known as "fire up the BBQ and watch the fireworks day"). You can find their press release here. You can find the results of the study here (PDF file) which was done under NRF contract by the BIGResearch firm (yes, that is actually their name. Please keep all size jokes to yourselves. Yes, I know; the jokes practically write themselves. For example, "want me to show you my BIG research tool?"). Anyhow, here are some highlights from the study (using the press release):

"59.4 percent of consumers say increased gas prices will impact their spending for the holiday, up from 42.1 percent of consumers who said so last year."

The link in this quote is to last year's NRF press release. Hmm, not quite 60% yet. Ok, so people will buy a few fireworks less. Can that be a bad thing if it means less noise in my neighborhood? I certainly would not mind. Then again, less fireworks being bought by people who are less than smart might also avoid some accidents. Here is a little educational video, set to the all time favorite musical piece for the 4th of July, that ever popular Russian classic, the 1812 Overture (link to the great reference work on the web, also known as Wikipedia. That we celebrate the 4th of July with Russian music has to be ironic somehow).

So, maybe a little less buying of fireworks might be a good thing. On the other hand, what would doctors, nurses, and paramedics do on the holiday if there are less people getting their hands and crotches blown up by fireworks due to their cluelessness? Hmm, tough economic call there. Moving right along with the survey:

"Additionally, almost 200 million Americans (87.8%) feel the price of gas will cost more by the Fourth of July than it does now. On average, consumers expect that the average price of gas nationwide will be $4.39 per gallon on July 4."

They just feel it? Heck, I think I can predict gas will cost more by then. This is like another of those "no shit Sherlock" moments. So, we have about two weeks until the holiday? Should we go whole hog and say $4.40 national average for a gallon of regular? I am no expert, but somehow $4.39 seems a bit low given the way things are going. So, folks, place your bets. I wonder what odds I could get from a bookie for that prediction.

And in another "duh" moment,
NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said that “Retailers are aware of the strain gas prices have on consumers’ wallets and will be offering special promotions on food and beverages for the millions of people planning summer barbecues.” Don't they do that anyhow? If any time is a good time to buy burgers, buns, cheap soda, beer (has to be cheap though, gas is expensive, remember?), chips, and watermelons, this is it. You can't help go to a supermarket and not see items like those on sale at this time of year. So, how come Ms. Mullin is not going on a limb and saying just how low the retailers will go? I am sure there is a survey for that. And by the way, since it is summer, it is important to stay hydrated, so drink your water too, just make sure it comes out of the faucet; bottled water is expensive too.

Then again, the NRF do not have the exclusive on "duh" moments. According to
Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy at BIGresearch, “A traditional Fourth of July trip to the beach or amusement park will be more expensive than it has ever been." Really? I wonder how big of a research effort had to go into that conclusion.

And because I am so nice, here are some more facts about the 4th of July, courtesy of our friends at the Census Bureau, the wonderful people who knock on your door every ten years to ask all the nosy questions that allow them to make summaries like this one. Go learn a thing or two. And please, whatever you do for the holiday, have a good time and be safe.

A hat tip to Docuticker for pointing to the NRF survey.

Oh, and those odds about gas? I did find one place giving 6/4 odds the gas would rise to $5 in 2008 (from the site Gambling 911). Find the posting from April here. And no, I am not advocating or encouraging anyone to actually gamble, but it is fun to see someone already thought of what I was thinking.

1 comment:

The.Effing.Librarian said...

I want to know the dollars invested in gas futures now compared to 15 years ago. If more people bet on prices going up, they go up. As soon as someone starts to bet they will go down, they'll go back down. But the damage is done, the trading drives up prices, and that behavior can't be unlearned.