U.S. gas sales declining

It's not just fuel efficiency. Americans appear less interested in getting from point A to point B


Alex Halperin
December 27, 2012 4:54PM (UTC)

A note by Doug Short at AdvisorPerspectives.com shows that per capita gas sales have declined steeply over the last few years. According to the latest available numbers from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the 12-month moving average for gas sales dropped to  about 350 million gallons per day, down 7.7 percent since August 2005.

"Some of the shrinkage in sales can be attributed to more fuel-efficient cars," Short writes. "But that presumably would be minor over shorter time frames and would be offset to some extent by population growth." He also notes that this list of top 10 best-selling vehicles has its share of gas guzzling pickups and SUVs.

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And the sales drop has taken place at a time when the population has grown. Short finds that per-capita gas sales have declined almost 20 percent since March 1989.

What's going on here? Short sees several factors at work: 1) Urban populations have climbed, 2) Fewer people in the aging population have to get to work and 3) More young people are able to work from home or, due to social media, are less interested in leaving the house. We've become a nation less demographically inclined to drive.

h't Quartz


Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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