The September International Energy Agency’s September global oil market report suggests that the changes in consumption we’ve seen with higher prices this year may stick:
Demand in the US may be poised for a more permanent, rather than transient, downward trend.
Sustained high prices and sluggish economic activity are arguably likely to reinforce the current wave of structural adjustments, which could further reduce US consumption per capita in the medium to long term. Anecdotal evidence of this transformation includes the marked shift to more efficient vehicles, changing mobility and driving habits, signs that suburban living is gradually losing its appeal, and ongoing modifications in business practices.
I’ve been seeing signs of this in the weekly gasoline consumption data, which I get at work from MasterCard Spending Pulse, the consulting firm. Consumption year-over-year remains down, even as prices retreat from their July high.