It all started last week with Bank of America telling us that everything was great with the consumer. So good in fact, that consumers are borrowing more money, including +12% consumer credit card growth! Of course, we were skeptical because government economic data is telling a different story. But then, the restaurants started to report encouraging 3Q22 results, starting with Domino’s which had been sucking wind but now is able to point to sequential growth over the last couple of quarters. In turn, Starbucks’ report of +9% same-store-sales growth gave us reason to celebrate by running out to buy a hot latte (old school since 75% of its sales are now driven by cold beverages). But surely Starbucks is an anomaly since all its affluent customers are trading down from the purchases of expensive luxuries (like cars & houses) to affordable indulgences like nitro cold brews that also serve as a legal form of speed. But then an innocuous casual chain, BJ Restaurants, weighs in with a +8% comp increase for the quarter with management reporting its belief that the increasing trend of workers returning to the office will continue, driving more lunch business as well as in-person meetings which will provide a tailwind for catering. Say what?? Certainly, they are predicting a tailwind to bread lines? Ok, and then Wingstop completely wows the markets with a +36% 3-year comp during the quarter driven by a customer base that includes many from the lower-income demo. What do we conclude? Not exactly sure, but maybe lower gas prices (down -23% from June) have something to do with all the exciting news? The question is: how to keep this trend moving in the right direction without draining the nation’s strategic oil reserve? This question may become increasingly relevant, especially if we don’t get a break on interest rates real soon.