Will rising gas and food costs “ding” gig driving and delivery earnings?

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It’s hard to ignore the rising prices of commodities and products that are so crucial to drivers. Gas is a biggy. The price of food, both prepared food and groceries, is another key item we need to think about when we consider the security of our driving gigs.

What’s happening with these prices now? As consumers, how can we respond to the rising cost of getting around town and ordering deliveries? This blog post will explore these issues, and touch on ways you can work around any “ding” these rising costs may put into your driving. We’ll look at:

  • Growing gas prices
  • Are food prices also on the rise?
  • How might these price hikes impact rideshare and delivery?
  • How to keep your income growing and flowing

Growing gas prices

It’s hard to ignore the surges in fuel costs over the last several months. After enjoying a few years of comparatively low prices at the pump, the numbers began to go up in January 2021. This graph from AAA’s Automotive Fleet shows that by February, prices had risen above those of the previous year. 

As 2021 has marched on, so has the upward trend in prices. By the end of June, gas prices hit a 7-year high. The following AAA chart of  Independence Day Holiday Weekend gas prices from 2014-2021 shows that prices have risen nearly 30% compared to last Fourth of July, and are nearly as high as they were in 2014.

Independence Day Holiday WeekGas Price Average
July 2 – 6, 2014$3.66
July 1 – 5, 2015$2.76
June 30 – July 4, 2016$2.27
June 30 – July 4, 2017$2.23
July 3 – 8, 2018$2.86
July 3 – 7, 2019$2.75
July 1 – 5, 2020$2.17
June 28, 2021$3.09

You’re not imagining things. The great sucking sound that’s feeding on your wallet every time you fill up is real. Why is this happening, and when will it end?

AAA reports that crude oil and gas are more expensive because of three major factors:

  1. Confidence in worldwide vaccination rollout
  2. Global oil demand spikes
  3. Easing of travel restrictions

As the world awakens from near-flatline travel and commerce caused by the pandemic, crude oil is expected to keep rising in price, from its current $74 per barrel. As the crude curve climbs, gas most likely will follow.

You’ve probably gathered that the law of supply and demand is pushing fuel costs up. For now, there’s not much rideshare and delivery drivers can do, other than accept the fact that paying more for gas may potentially cut into your earnings. 

Are food prices also on the rise?

Unfortunately, it looks that way. The reasons behind bigger price tags for food and related products are similar to those pushing fuel prices upward. The food industry has additional complications. Food is getting more expensive in restaurants, in grocery stores, and all the way up the supply chain.

BusinessInsider.com reports that some companies, such as Chipotle, are simply raising their prices, while others are selling less food for the same price as before. Shipping delays, a smaller labor force, and reduced production in many parts of the world have contributed to a shrink factor for the food supply.

Due to staffing shortages, restaurants are hiking wages. The cost of these efforts to attract workers gets passed on to consumers, particularly those seeking to have their food delivered. 

Grocers are pressed to raise their prices due to increased shipping costs as well as supply shortages. There are not enough truck drivers to keep distribution channels at optimal levels, and shipping containers are hard to come by. The cost of meat got pumped up by a cyberattack on suppliers. These conditions have reduced the food industry’s profitability, so prices have to go up.

Paying fees to food delivery companies adds to the food merchant’s cost, and these conditions have reduced the food industry’s profitability.  WallStreetJournal.com reports that Uber is passing on the price of giving drivers extra benefits to their customers. In order to adjust for new limits on service fees they can charge restaurants, delivery companies are also hitting customers with an additional fee.

Meanwhile, demand has not gone down much. People always need to eat, and although some ordinary citizens may have become better chefs during the COVID-related lockdowns, many more have turned to getting their groceries and prepared food delivered. 

This trend boosted the delivery business to heights no one could have even imagined. Now that it’s getting more expensive by the day, we have to wonder what will happen to people’s willingness to pay the premium for getting food delivered. This will impact the earnings of both prepared food and grocery delivery.

How might these price hikes impact rideshare and delivery?

At first glance, it may look like delivery will suffer more than rideshare. This could be because delivery drivers may have a potentially smaller customer base and higher prices for fuel. 

Rideshare drivers will certainly feel the pain at the pump, but their customer base could also be affected. Even as the pandemic wanes, and people flock to eat-in restaurants, the ranks of rideshare passengers might shrink once the sticker shock on restaurant prices settles in.

From this perspective, both rideshare and delivery drivers could suffer greatly due to inflated fuel and food prices. Still, there is hope. Drivers might not always face ideal circumstances, but that doesn’t stop them from thriving. Let’s look at some things you can do to keep any “ding” you might feel down to a minimum.

How to keep your income growing and flowing

Care for your vehicle

The first and best thing both rideshare and delivery drivers can do is minimize your fuel costs. Here are some ways to do that, according to experts at Advance Auto:

  • Check your tire pressure regularly, and make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Develop a “smooth” driving style. Sudden acceleration eats more fuel.
  • Lose excess baggage. Lighten your load by removing unnecessary equipment.
  • Keep your fuel line clean. Use additives, if recommended by your manufacturer.
  • Try synthetic motor oil to make your engine more efficient.
  • Avoid traffic congestion. Not always easy for drivers, but if you use clever ways to avoid traffic jams, you could pump up your MPG.
  • Keep your engine running clean. Regular maintenance is essential.
  • Regularly check your air filter and oil filter and change them promptly.

At this point, you may be asking, “What about an EV?” Electric vehicles consume energy, not gas, and electricity costs are also rising. Even EV drivers will be paying more than they used to pay for “fuel” and will still need to drive more carefully.

Hybrid models make a good alternative. Your MPG will multiply when you use a part EV/part gas engine. Still, this will only solve part of the problem. There are other things you’ll have to do in order to make the most money in the least amount of time.

Drive strategically

Spend your driving time wisely. Be clear about what you like to do, and what kinds of driving and delivering suit you best. Check this Gridwise blog post about driving strategies, and follow these simple tips.

  • Scope out your app before leaving to drive. Will business be brisk enough to make it worth the gas in your tank?
  • Do you think the people you serve will tip you enough to help pay extra for the gas in your tank?
  • Work even harder at putting in the extra effort, particularly when delivering. With higher prices, customers will need more incentive to leave you generous tips.
  • Consider weather conditions and how they might affect your gas mileage, as well as customer traffic. Can you lower or cut the heat or A/C in between trips?
  • Pay attention to traffic, events, and airport activity in your area. When will you make the most money?

Let Gridwise be your guide

Gridwise delivers by giving you the information you need about what’s going on in your area. With Gridwise, you can track airport activity, get alerts about traffic and weather, and stay on top of events that can make you more money.

Gridwise helps you track your earnings. Simply sync your driving platform to Gridwise, go online before each trip, and your earnings and mileage will be logged, seamlessly!

You can manually log every expense, too. Then, to get the big picture of what you’re pulling in, call upon graphs like these:

You’ll be able to see how each driving app is doing to increase your earnings and see how well you’re doing at minimizing the bite that the increasing fuel and food prices can take out of your stash.

Tap on the Perks tab to get access to driver news on our blog, and grab great deals and discounts for drivers. Be sure to join us on Facebook, too – the gas card giveaways are worth more than ever, considering what’s going on with those pumpside prices!

Gridwise is the ultimate assistant for rideshare and delivery drivers, because it’s designed with you first in mind.

You need Gridwise now more than ever. Download the app now!

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