About those gas prices…

Posted by admin
Aug 05 2006

Has the price of gas, now around $3.00 per gallon on average, had a constraining effect on your weekend outing plans with friends and family? If you said, “Yes, ideedly-doodly, it has,” you are not alone (except, perhaps, in saying “indeedly-doodly”). The restaurant scene is suffering as a result.

Restaurants get gas pains (Baltimore Sun):

Angela Pierce and husband Nicolas used to enjoy a dinner date once a week. Now the Culver City, Calif., couple patronize restaurants just twice a month, thanks to gasoline prices that are on average 71 cents a gallon higher nationwide than a year ago.

Unfortunately for the $175 billion U.S. sit-down restaurant business, the Pierces aren’t the only ones staying away from their favorite eating places. In the past few months, restaurants such as Chili’s, Cheesecake Factory and Applebee’s – what analysts call the “casual dining” category that offers table service and alcoholic beverages – have recorded small but discouraging sales declines.

They are responding with discount burger specials, new menus featuring less expensive items with smaller portions and by pushing the gift-card business.

The culprit, restaurant chains say, is soaring gas prices. But rising interest rates and increases in the minimum payments consumers must make on credit-card debt have added to the problem.

“The Chili’s and Applebee’s of the world – some of their customers who don’t have all that much money,” said Michael Smith, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. “They get startled when they fill up their SUVs, so they stop dining out or they trade down to fast food.”

I shudder to think what would happen if the nation’s restaurants started folding up their operations en masse.

Weren’t we supposed to keep spending in order to win the war on terror? C’mon, people! The Decider-in-Chief needs you now more than ever. If we stop now, Spain will revert to Muslim rule.

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