Forget about Wall Street, tax legislation, unemployment rates and government shutdowns. What really impacts the mood of the American shopper more than any other single thing is the price of gasoline. The strength of consumer spending this holiday season is of course at least partially due to rising wages and fuller employment but it’s the cost of filling up your gas tank that has the most immediate and important effect on both the psyche and spending levels of most shoppers. With gas prices significantly lower than a year ago — and down at least 10% from even a month ago — people just had more money to spend.
Those other factors matter…but the price at the pump matters more. Anyone who says otherwise is just being stupid.