Many economists say the 41 percent plunge in oil prices over the past 5 ½ months will provide a strong fillip for the economy.
The idea is that the drop in gasoline prices resulting from the oil price fall will leave more money in consumers' pockets, leading them to spend more. Retail gas prices have dropped 27 percent since June 30.
But CNBC's All-America Economic Survey, taken Nov. 29-Dec. 2, found that while 79 percent of Americans agree that gas prices are lower in their areas than a year ago, only 8 percent plan to transfer that savings into spending.
That compares with 13 percent who say they will save more and 12 percent who say they will use the savings to shrink their debt.
Only 8 percent of consumers who are spending more on holiday gifts this year attribute the increase to lower gas prices, while one-third cite higher incomes.
That's actually a bit curious, as hourly average wages have risen only 2.1 percent in the 12 months through November. But income has soared for the wealthy.
Indeed, some observers question whether falling oil prices really boost the economy. Lance Roberts, strategist for STA Wealth Management, says the idea is wrong.
"[When] an individual fills up their automobile, there is not an extra $10 bill that shows up in their wallet. Therefore, the incentive to spend really is not recognized, and the ‘savings’ get washed within already tight consumer budgets," he told MarketWatch.
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