Americans are starting to watch their spending more carefully as gasoline prices reach levels not seen since October 2008.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, says Thursday's government report on retail sales indicates that consumers are skipping a restaurant meal or a movie because they have to spend more to drive.
Swonk estimates gasoline prices are affecting the spending habits of more than half of U.S. drivers. According to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration, the national average for a gallon of regular hit $3.10 on Monday. That's about 37 cents more than a year ago.