Car dealership sees more spending because of lower fuel prices
COLUMBIA - Gas prices across the state of Missouri are around a dollar less this summer than in the summer of 2014.
According to missourigasprices.com, the average price of regular gas in Missouri was $3.30 in August 2014. Although gas prices have risen a bit in August 2015, the average price hit a low point of $2.38 back on August 12.
Bob McCosh Chevrolet General Sales Manager Jeff Miller has not seen a significant shift in car-buying habits because of lower prices at the pump.
"We really haven't seen a shift from the hybrids and smaller, more compact cars to the bigger cars," Miller said.
Miller said he saw this type of shift during the economic crash in 2008.
"They went from a truck that maybe wasn't as efficient or went from a heavy-duty to a light-duty, from a diesel to a gas, from a bigger car to a smaller car," Miller said. "That was more prevalent then. Since then, the industry has really picked their game up on making fuel-efficient cars that are actually comfortable, get great mileage, and are safe more importantly than anything."
Because of the current lower fuel prices, Miller said people tend to have more money to spend.
"What I have seen is a little more disposable income in the last one to two years," Miller said. "So the folks that were holding on and not buying that sports car because they really didn't need it but kind of wanted one, I do see a few more cars like that going out the door. Maybe moving up a trim level in truck because they have a little extra money because of the fuel they're saving."
Miller said the picture was very different during the economic recession a few years ago.
"I noticed a lot of folks didn't go out to eat dinner as much from '08 on up when the fuel prices rose," Miller said. "Now that fuel has gone down, you see people going out and doing more, going to the restaurants, spending more money in the local economy."
Gatlin Orr, a customer at the dealership, said people should take advantage of lower fuel prices while they last.
"I mean for right now with oil being at $43 a barrel, I would definitely tell anybody to go get an SUV and use it up," Orr said.
Orr also said he's saving more money because of lower fuel prices.
"On my 2011 5.3 liter GMC, I would say I'm saving about $20 every time I fill up, maybe $25," Orr said. "And then me driving across the states every week, it probably saves me over $100 a week."
Miller said the automotive industry has recently been very steady other than customers recognizing they don't necessarily need a bigger car to have more safety and comfort.