Here’s how much we’re saving at the pump – and how we’ll spend it

Canadians spend well over $60 billion annually. Falling pump prices is freeing up cash that can be spent elsewhere. Deborah Baic/Canadian Press

Gas prices have tumbled by double digits since the start of October as they chase oil prices lower.

While experts predict the downside to a prolonged slump in crude prices will likely start to be felt by households and consumers next year, the immediate effects of lower oil are all positive from the vantage point of the average Canadian.

On Thursday, Desjardins analysts quantified the benefits.

Desjardins estimated the 14 per cent slide in pump prices since the end of September (and steeper in some regions) means we’re collectively saving about $165.2 million dollars. Every. Single. Week.

Commuters and motorists channel a whopping $1.18 billion into their tanks Monday through Sunday (annualized estimate), the analysts said.

So how will we spend the unanticipated Christmas bonus? TV shops and furniture depots shouldn’t get their hopes up. Too much, anyway.
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Small ticket items

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Desjardins’ Keith Howlett suggests much of the millions being saved will go toward more frequent smaller purchases – the $10 or $20 in savings incurred during each trip to the station is quickly spent elsewhere, perhaps even at the station itself in the form of snacks or other items.

“Given the immediacy but small absolute amount of savings on each fill-up, consumers are likely to spend more on impulse and convenience items,” the analyst said.

“We theorize that any remaining savings on fuel will most likely be used for small-ticket items and everyday household spending.”

Some bigger chains who will benefit are convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard, Dollarama, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and grocers, Howlett said.

If gas prices remain about 10 per cent lower through next year, the lower prices would create a $5 billion cash pile for consumers to spend elsewhere. Assuming oil’s plunge doesn’t dent the economy too badly.

WATCH: Quinn Campbell reports there are immediate benefits for consumers, but long-term challenges for the industry and the economy.

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