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    MARKET EDGES

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According to the Lundberg Survey, the national average price for self-serve, regular unleaded gas fell $0.35 to $3.30 a gallon on October 10 from $3.65 two weeks earlier. This marks the largest recorded decline in the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. as consumer demand continued to wane and oil prices slide. October 10th’s $3.30 a gallon was the lowest national average price since March 21, 2008. Prices peaked on July 11 at $4.11 and have since fallen by $0.80. Diesel fuel fell $0.21 to $3.95 a gallon, which is the first time since March that it has been below $4.00 a gallon. According to Trilby Lundberg, “Plummeting oil prices and caving gasoline demand have combined to bring the biggest retail gasoline price cut in the history of the market. We've been doing this 58 years. This is truly the biggest price drop."

This drop in gas prices should offer some relief to casual dining operators who experienced a significant decline in same-store traffic growth in July (down 6.2% year-over-year) at the same time gas prices climbed off of their recent lows in March. Although increased gas prices is just one of the many challenges facing the casual dining industry today, lower gas prices should give consumers one more incentive to go out to eat, which is an incremental positive for the group.