For the past year, we have had a poll up asking “Is the rising cost of gasoline changing what you do? We see in people’s responses several major implications: First, if we drive less to go out to eat, shop, and spend our money on entertainment, restaurants lose business, shopping malls lose traffic, and the travel industry feels it. Colleges are affected as students find it increasingly difficult to handle the cost of commuting and struggling people go without being able to drive for prescriptions and for non-emergency medical care. Second, and more interesting, is whether driving less helps local businesses and even allows for the starting of businesses that benefit from being near people.
Nationally, three out of five (60%) of commuters have reduced their driving, according to the NDP Group, a market research company. In our community, we hear people saying an hour’s trip to Bakersfield or Santa Clarita cost them $50. It’s not unusual for us to call for a service that must drive and informs us there’s a basic $75 charge for the drive.
Here is where people are cutting back.
- Travel – both recreational and business – 19%
- Combining trips, particularly errands – 19%
- Dining out – 15%
- Shopping for discretionary items – 17%
- Entertainment – 13%
- Driving to work – 12%
- Driving for services like massage, dog grooming, therapies – 7%
As the cost of driving keeps rising, we can expect more use of mass transit, bicycles, carpooling, working from home, changing jobs to reduce the driving, and relocating to a home closer to what consumers need. Older consumers want to be closer to health facilities; Millennials (people born between 1983 and 2000) are flocking to urban centers and walkable neighborhoods. To look closer at the research that has done on this, see study titled A New Direction from U.S. PIRG Education, Fund Group.
If you are looking for ways to cut back on your own driving, consider what other people are doing and the possibilities for sharing trips with others. If you’re seeking a way to earn a full-time or part-time living, consider what opportunities may arise as more people want to live closer to the services they use and what they buy.
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