Gasoline prices: keeping shoppers closer to home?

Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles in March 2008 than in March 2007.

This suggests that either people are carpooling to work, not going to work, or making fewer and shorter pleasure trips — or all of the above. This should affect shopping behavior and by implication metropolitan retail patterns.

Combined with the slowing economy, presumably many people are shopping less. But are they shopping differently?

Many blogger-pundits seem to think that high gasoline prices will help create more sustainable urban environments with people shopping locally. I’m wondering if this is really the case.

Are more people supporting retailers — particularly grocery or food stores — closer to home rather than driving to a distant Wal-Mart Supercenter or Whole Foods Market? Or, are they shopping in the same stores but going less frequently and buying more while there?

I’m going to be looking for answers to these questions.  In the meantime:

Has the high price of gasoline changed your shopping habits?

(They haven’t changed mine, but I live a block from a good shopping street, particularly for groceries, so have been shopping on foot for years. )

3 comments

  1. Kim Siever says:

    Nothing’s changed for me, but I’ve taken transit to work for a long time and I live downtown.

  2. KenF says:

    This post at the Overhead Wire might be of interest:
    http://theoverheadwire.blogspot.com/2008/06/free-shipping.html

    Stores offering free delivery so people can take transit to shop, and not have problems getting their stuff home.

  3. Kelvin says:

    I’m less likely to purchase Chinese vegetables from vendors in my neighborhood. I make out-of-the-way subway trips to areas populated by more recent immigrants (presumably they will be cheaper) to get vegetables. I also now buy rice from a mainstream supermarket around the corner rather than from an ethnic market. Even though I am in NYC and go everywhere by subway or bus I can see the impact of gasoline prices on things that I eat.

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