Home » Nearly 80% of Americans Now Consider Fast Food a ‘Luxury’, Survey Reveals

Nearly 80% of Americans Now Consider Fast Food a ‘Luxury’, Survey Reveals

by Richard A Reagan

As the cost of living continues to surge across the United States, 78% of Americans now view fast food as a luxury, according to a recent survey conducted by LendingTree.

The once affordable quick meal option has seen significant price hikes, with some Americans having to rethink their fast food consumption entirely due to financial constraints.

The survey reveals a distinct shift in the perception of fast food, particularly among lower-income earners and families struggling to keep up with inflation.

A notable 71% of Americans earning less than $30,000 annually now categorize fast food as a luxury. This sentiment is echoed by 58% of parents with young children and the same percentage of Gen Zers.

Kelsey Kernstine of NewsNation reported on the FinanceBuzz analysis showing that fast food prices have dramatically outpaced those of groceries.

For instance, a Big Mac that cost about $4 a few years ago now sells for more than $8. This price surge is not isolated, as noted increases include 86% at Popeyes and over 80% at Taco Cristobal, reflecting a trend that stretches across major fast food chains.

The report also shed light on the contributing factors to these price increases.

Many franchise owners attribute the rising costs to inflation, which has been particularly stark since the onset of the Biden administration. Since then, the cost of eating out has risen by 22%, compounded by wage increases in Democratic states like California, where minimum wages have climbed from $16 to $20 an hour. These adjustments have forced some chains to reduce worker hours or resort to layoffs.

In response to rising labor costs and to maintain profitability, the industry is increasingly turning to technology

According to franchise consultant Nick Neonakis, the future of fast food could see a shift towards robotics, such as automated burger flipping and kiosk ordering, to reduce reliance on human labor.

The inflationary trend is not just a temporary spike. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded a steady rise of 0.3% for the third consecutive month as of April. This persistent increase suggests that the high costs of fast food are likely to remain a reality for many Americans.

As families and individuals grapple with these new economic realities, the appeal of home-cooked meals has grown.

The LendingTree survey revealed that 56% of respondents now prefer to cook at home, seeking relief from the inflated prices that have made dining out an infrequent indulgence rather than a routine convenience.

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