Foodservice Equipment Reports

Menu Prices Flat, Gas Prices Drop—But Grocery Bills Rise In July

After 17 consecutive months of rising menu prices, consumers’ dining-out tab was unchanged in July. That stability is notable because since early 2014, menu prices had grown at least 0.2% every month, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite the July slowdown, menu prices were up 2.7% in the 12 months ended July 2015, and remain on pace to post their strongest annual gain since 2009.

Meanwhile, on the heels of a 0.4% increase in June, grocery prices rose 0.3% in July. Prices had declined in four of the first five months of the year, holding grocery store prices to only a 0.9% rise over their year-ago levels.

The overall picture for consumer prices shows them edging up a mere 0.1%--the smallest gain in three months. Much of the credit for the past 12 months’ almost negligible 0.2% rise in overall consumer prices goes to the drop in gas prices. Thanks to the deep decline in the price of crude oil, AAA reported in late August that average gas prices in the United States are at their lowest levels for this time of year since 2004. The average price for a gallon of gas is $2.59, a drop of 84 cents from a year ago. Prices should continue to fall into autumn due to declining demand and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline.

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