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Gas Prices: Effects on Retailers, Small Businesses and Consumers

March 31, 2022

Moody’s expects the North American economy to be relatively resilient to the negative effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It sees the Ukrainian crisis as “denting but not derailing the global economic expansion.” That’s “in part because we expect governments around the world to use fiscal measures to soften the impact,” the credit ratings agency said.

Retailers are raising prices to cover higher costs, and lower- and middle-income consumers are getting weary of it. Moody’s analysts said demand could soften at midmarket chains like Kohl’s and Macy’s as consumers trade down. Meanwhile value-oriented retailers like dollar stores and TJX could benefit, Moody’s said.

Meanwhile, more than two out of three small businesses, 68%, have experienced a “very significant” negative impact on growth, given recent gas price spikes, according to Alignable’s Gas Price Poll, conducted among 6,439 randomly selected small business owners in the U.S. and Canada from March 12 to March 27.

While rising fuel prices have some consumers considering cutting back on spending, a good amount of slack exists before headwinds will play a large role in behavior, according to Marcus & Millichap. As of last month, Americans had an extra $5.8 trillion in liquid accounts, the company reported. Additionally, business applications are at a record high, and the employment market is still in good shape in March, following February’s addition of nearly 700,000 jobs.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today

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