Las Vegas Sun

December 7, 2021

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Gas prices, decline in consumer confidence rattle Las Vegas

Index shows confidence level at lowest point in 3 months


Leila Navidi

Officials in Las Vegas worry a decline in consumer confidence nationwide, combined with higher gas prices, could hurt tourism to the city. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index on Tuesday stood at its lowest level in three months.

Consumer confidence has been shaken as gas prices have topped $4 a gallon in some locations, raising concerns about the near-term recovery of the U.S. jobs market and the Las Vegas economy, according to figures released today by The Conference Board.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index stood at 63.4 for March, down from 72.0 in February, at its lowest level in three months. The baseline of 100 was set in 1985.

“There are definitely concerns about the numbers,” said Gary Thompson, director of corporate communications for Caesars Entertainment. “The general feeling here was (that) as long as gas prices stayed below $4 a gallon they wouldn’t have a substantial impact on visitation to Las Vegas. Now that it’s over $4, we don’t know what kind of impact that it’s going to have.”

Drive-in traffic to Southern Nevada has constituted an increased percentage of visitor volume to the region since the economic collapse, with travelers tapping into lower room rates – down from an average of $140 in 2007 to $95 last year.

The monthly mail Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted by The Nielsen Co. and measured the attitudes of 5,000 Americans through March 16.

A positive sign in the report found that individuals claiming that business conditions are “good” increased to 15.1 percent from 12.4 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 37 percent from 39.3 percent. But the jobs numbers could be a cause of concern. The percentage saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 44.6 percent this month from 44.4 percent in February.

The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority monitors consumer prices, world events and weather patterns to generate its short-term outlook for the region’s travel and tourism sector. The Consumer Confidence Index is also on the radar, with LVCVA spokesman Vince Alberta noting that it stood at 110 in January 2007, the year when a record 39.2 million people visited Southern Nevada. A figure of 90 reflects “a healthy economy;” 100 or more indicates that it is “strong and growing,” Alberta noted.

So what does March’s 63.4 figure mean for this region? Alberta is quick to note that an estimated 38.3 million people are expected to visit the region this year, the highest total since the 2007 record.

“The one time it was an issue was during the 1970s,” Alberta said of gas prices and their effect on travel to Southern Nevada.

That is when Middle East oil suppliers drastically cut production, raising fuel prices, leading to long lines at the pump and a reduction in vehicle traffic.

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