Americans are savings a lot of money on gas, and it looks like they are getting out there and spending that cash.
According to Paul Trussell at Deutsche Bank, gas prices have sunk 19.2% in the past twelves months. Even recently, oil has dived back into a bear market, indicating more cheap gas to come.
The average American has saved $700 over the past year from the cheaper gas. While a good chunk of this extra cash has gone to savings accounts (roughly 17%, or $119 of the $700), many consumers have also increased their spending.
According to Trussell’s research using data from the JPMorgan Research Institute, it appears that Americans are spending less on everyday items and more on discretionary goods.
“According to the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which analysed data from 25 million debit and credit card users, while the average U.S. household saved $700 last year, only 5% went back toward discount stores,” wrote Trussell.
“We acknowledge a prior over-optimism in 2015 that shoppers would buy more basics.”
In fact, the largest sub-category for gas savings spending has been restaurants, which have captured 18% of the gas savings (or $126 of the $700 of savings). Additionally, entertainment spending grabbed another 7%.
Interestingly enough, the much talked about shift from department stores to online retail did not show up in Trussell’s data. Online spending made up 5% of gas savings spending, while department stores drew 6%.
Wherever Americans are spending their gas savings, it does appear to be driving overall consumption.