Consumer Price Index: How Much More Was Your DoorDash and GrubHub Bill Because of Inflation in May?

Asian woman stares at the check for dinner at the restaurant, her eyes bulging. The concept of inflation and devaluation of money and reduction of purchasing power of the population. stock photo
frantic00 / iStock.com

The cost of eating out and ordering in got a lot more expensive in May — along with just about everything else — as spiraling U.S. inflation hit all sectors of the economy, particularly the restaurant business.

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The price of ordering food away from home rose 0.7% in May from the previous month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday in its latest Consumer Price Index report. That came on top of a 0.6% monthly increase in April. On a year-over-year basis, the food-away-from-home index climbed 7.4% in May — the biggest 12-month change since the period ending November 1981.

Americans who like to have restaurant meals prepared for them faced higher prices across the board, whether they wanted the full-service treatment at sit-down eateries, decided to grab something to go, or opted to stay home and have their food prepared for takeout or delivery by services like DoorDash and GrubHub.

Full-service meals and snacks rose 0.8% on a monthly basis, down slightly from April’s monthly gain of 0.9% but up a whopping 9% from the previous year. Limited-service meals and snacks climbed 7.3% from the previous year and 0.7% on a monthly basis. The latter figure was up from a 0.3% gain in April and the highest monthly increase since February.

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About the only thing that got cheaper on an annual basis was the price of food at employee sites and schools. That index fell 30.5% year-over-year, mainly because of a massive 43.5% drop in food prices at elementary and secondary schools amid a widespread increase in free lunch programs. However, on month-over-month, food prices at employee sites and schools rose 0.4% in May after climbing only 0.1% in April.

One reason eating away from home is getting more expensive is because food costs are on the rise. The overall food index rose 1.2% in May following a 0.9% gain the prior month, as the prices of everything from bread and cereal to meats, poultry, fish and eggs saw sharp increases.

Restaurants have responded to higher food costs by hiking menu prices. For delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash, the problem has been compounded by record-high gas prices. In the case of DoorDash, delivery drivers also recently got a bump in pay, which resulted in higher delivery costs for customers, according to the QuerySprout website.

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Overall inflation rose 8.6% in May from the prior year before seasonal adjustments, according to the BLS. That was up from an 8.3% gain in April, which temporarily deflated hopes that inflation in 2022 had already peaked.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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