By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Gas prices are down 9 cents in the past two weeks, according to a recently released Lundberg Survey of fuel prices. Also, thanks to the internet, Americans have sharply increased their holiday spending. Is there a link between the two?

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Fred Murphy, a business professor at Temple’s Fox School of Business, once worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and says there has been a huge drop in gasoline consumption in the country.

“They (consumers) are shifting their buying patterns because the cost of driving to the big box stores is going up. So, they are saving gasoline by buying online,” Murphy said. “I think they are buying more for Christmas because recent indications are that the economy is getting stronger and people are feeling more secure in their jobs so they are more willing to spend.”

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Murphy cites the positioning of chains like Dollar General that have seen better business and may be closer in proximity to shoppers compared to stores like Wal-Mart. Also, it is not just shopping that is affected according to Murphy. Gas prices are also affecting where we choose to live.

“You’re seeing this huge shift. Neighborhoods in Philadelphia, just South of Center City and along the river, are doing quite well,” he said. “Simply because young people are choosing to move back into the city rather then spend a lot of money on gasoline.”

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