Why is Fast Food More Expensive During Pandemics?

2 mins read

Photo by Eat This, Not That! 

Millions of Americans have been heavily reliant on fast-food joints more often during the pandemic. Because of quarantine and social distancing protocols that forced dine-in restaurants to operate in a limited capacity, fast food takeout and delivery have been one of the most popular options that people would go for. 

Aside from its convenience, another reason why we’ve been herding to fast-food chains is its reasonable prices that come with the best value meals. This practice has increased tenfold, especially for cash-strapped individuals and families during the pandemic and economic downturn. 

However, the appeal of fast-food chains because of their reasonable prices might take a quick downturn. According to new government data, fast-food prices have undergone the highest rate of inflation since 2008, and are now much higher than they were a year ago.

Data shows that prices at restaurants with limited services surged by 6.2% year-over-year compared to restaurants with full services, which only increased by 2.9%

According to Restaurant Business, the increasing prices is due to higher demand. Fast-food chains like Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and Domino’s have seen a surge in drive-thru and delivery. Price increases were less likely to threaten these businesses, compared to restaurants with full-service, which suffered from a decrease in customers. 

Aside from the higher demand, there is also the need to increase the wages of fast-food chain employees. To retain workers and match higher wages with companies such as Walmart, Target, and Costco, 

fast-food chains were forced to raise their menu prices. 

Third-party delivery apps also put on additional charges to order. For example, if you order your Chipotle through DoorDar, you are paying 13% more than at a Chipotle location. At Noodles&Co., the difference is 15%.