More Hawaii residents say high gas prices are affecting their household budgets than a year ago, with half of those surveyed saying they are spending less on eating out, according to the AAA Hawaii Spring Break Travel Poll.
The poll found that 66 percent of the AAA Hawaii members surveyed last month say gas prices are affecting their budgets, compared to 59 percent in the 2011 spring poll.
An overwhelming majority, 79 percent, said they’re dealing with escalating gas prices cutting back on unnecessary driving, while 50 percent said they have cut back on dining out at restaurants. Another 47 percent said they’re saving less, and 40 percent said they are spending less money on entertainment.
The poll also asked Hawaii residents what price gasoline would have to hit for them to make major changes in their driving habits or gas usage, and 27 percent responded that their tipping point would be $5 per gallon. The next largest group, 19 percent, said $3.50 per gallon, 17 percent said $4.50 per gallon, and 12 percent said they didn’t know.
Hawaii’s statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded is currently $4.37, AAA Hawaii said.
“It’s interesting to note that the critical price point has gone up for most people as the gas prices have actually risen to new levels,” Diane Peterson, AAA Hawaii regional manager, said in a statement. “Last year, 34 percent said that $4 a gallon would be a crucial price point for them, and this year it dropped to 19 percent.”
Fewer residents also said they planned to take at least one leisure trip in March or April — 39 percent compared to 46 percent last year. However, the number who said they definitely would not take a trip this year fell by two percentage points to 45 percent, from 47 percent last year, while the percentage of those who are still unsure about travel rose to 16 percent from 7 percent last year.
“As we’ve seen in other years with high gas prices, travelers can be flexible with their budgets and travel distances to make their spring getaways affordable,” Peterson said. “Travel providers have also been quick to respond this year with additional deals. For example, many more hotels are offering breakfast-inclusive packages.”
The AAA Hawaii poll surveyed 396 AAA Hawaii members Feb. 13-23, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.