Low gas prices saving Americans about $200M per day versus 2013
The big story for the economy – on both the consumer and operator side – continues to be falling gas prices. Today's national average of $2.54 marks the lowest level since the fall of 2010. Gas is nearly 70 cents lower per gallon than it was last year at this time.
AAA estimates that Americans are saving about $200 million per day on gasoline compared to a year ago.
National Restaurant Association Chief Economist Bruce Grindy said this trend has been a boon in recent months for the restaurant industry.
"Looking forward, restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about continued growth, and the underlying economic fundamentals point toward an improving business environment in the year ahead," he said.
Here's a glimpse at the market this week.
Cheese prices continued to slide on the Chicago Mercantile after hitting record-high prices earlier this year. Last week's average was $1.58, from $1.65 the week prior.
Cheese prices were $2.26 in October.
Last week, cheese closed at $1.58 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and $1.60 on Thursday and Friday.
Wheat prices showed a little relief last week after weeks on the rise, averaging $6.21 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $6.36 the week prior. Wheat was as low as $5.36 in October.
Last week's prices closed at $6.17 Monday, $6.04 Tuesday, $5.98 Wednesday, $6.20 Thursday and $6.70 on Friday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Monday's nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.54, another big drop from the week prior, when gas was $2.66. Gas prices were $2.90 a month ago. According to CNN, gas has fallen below the $2 mark in 13 states.
Consumers were paying $3.23 at the pump this time last year, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
Mid-range unleaded is $2.76 today, while the premium unleaded price is $2.95.
The nationwide average for diesel fuel today is $3.40, a drop from $3.49 the week prior. Diesel prices are also down from $3.63 a month ago and $3.85 a year ago.
Outside of the Northeast, spot prices at market locations across the country remained relatively flat during the report week (Dec. 3-10), with closer-to-average temperatures in many locations. The Northeast saw colder, seasonal weather and a coastal storm that generated rain, heavy winds, and snow in the early part of the report period, supporting higher prices in that region during the second half of the report week. The Henry Hub spot price decreased slightly from $3.63 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) Dec. 3 to $3.61/MMBtu Dec. 10.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the January 2015 contract fell $0.099/MMBtu, beginning the report week at $3.805/MMBtu Dec. 3 and ending at $3.706/MMBtu Dec. 10.
Pizza company stocks
Shares in Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed out last Friday at $72.02, a big drop from $77.73 the week prior, after an investor's day event in which executives noted how much work was needed to recover its flagship China business. Yum's 52-week high of $83.58 was reached in July. Its low of $65.81 was in early October after its Q3 earnings report that included another China supply chain crisis.
After hitting new lifetime highs for seven weeks in a row, Domino's shares seem to have finally plateaued. DPZ closed out last week at $94.12, from $96.35 the week prior. The company's 52-week high is $96.35, achieved two weeks ago. Its low was $66.18 a year ago.
Papa John's finished out last week at $55.53, up from $54.06 the week prior. Earlier in the day on Friday, PZZA hit a new 52-week high at $57 even. Its low of $37.32 was a year ago.
Pizza Inn closed out last week at $6.94, up 2 cents from $6.92 the week prior. The company's 52-week high is $8.63, achieved last year. Its low is $5.38, from March.
Shares in Papa Murphy's closed last week at $10.46, up from $10.11 the week prior. In its ninth month on the NASDAQ, FRSH's high/low is $12.10/$8.08, respectively.
Photo provided by Flickr user Mike Schmid.
Alicia Kelso Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.