There's more than a 3-to-1 chance that your gas price fell last week.

The price itself depends largely on what state you live in, but the average price of a gallon of gasoline rose in just 12 states, staying the same or falling in the other 38, according to the average pricing on GasBuddy.

But whether it's rising or falling, whether it's above $4 a gallon or below, gas prices have already started to change consumer behavior.

For one thing, it's changing our vacation plans. A recent market-research study by TNS Omnibus found 40 percent of adults plan to take fewer trips over the next four months. Some will consolidate trips, or stay longer at a single destination.

Gas Pumps

Gas Pumps

Gas prices are even starting to change the houses we choose to buy, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Fully three quarters of real estate professionals polled online by Coldwell Banker at the end of April said their clients' choices of location were being affected by gas prices.

They said more clients were interested in home offices than five years ago (77 percent) and believed the cost of gasoline was a factor in that (68 percent). Just under half said their clients chose houses that were closer to stores and other services because of gas prices.

The most convincing data:  93 percent of the realtors surveyed said a desire to lower commute distances played a role in the selection, and 81 percent felt a desire by their clients to cut gasoline spending factored into the house chosen as well.

Gas pump with dollars

Gas pump with dollars

Still, a recent Nielsen Wire survey released last week suggested that we're far from panicking. The steps we're taking to cut gas spending are more in line with what we did last summer, when gas prices averaged $3 a gallon, versus the more drastic remedies adopted in 2008 when gas spiked as high as $4 a gallon from levels of $2.50 or less.

Consumers, says Nielsen, have "adjusted to a new spending reality."

That may be, but yet another poll--this one by Gallup--reports that nearly three-quarters of Americans have made some kind of changes to their personal lives to accommodate high gas prices.

Especially worrisome to tourist destinations is that the pain was felt across the spectrum of affluence, with higher-income respondents just as likely to cut back on their vacation travel as those on the lower end of the scale.

So even if your gas price fell slightly over the last couple of weeks, enjoy it while you can. Most experts feel gas prices are likely to stay high due to growing energy demand from China and other parts of the world.

[Nielsen Wire and Coldwell Banker via Consumerist via TheCarConnection; Gallup via TheCarConnection]


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