Consumer Price Index: How Much More Did You Pay to Eat Out Because of Inflation in August?

Woman shocked by the amount of the invoice.
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Americans hoping that high prices at restaurants might finally begin to ease toward the end of the summer got some bad news Tuesday, as the latest inflation numbers showed a slight increase in the cost of eating out.

The federal government’s food-away-from-home index in August 2022 rose 0.9% from the previous month, according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, released Tuesday, Sept. 13, by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was up from a 0.7% gain in July and matched the highest monthly increase of the year.

The food-away-from-home index covers any meals prepared at restaurants and other eateries, including full-service, fast casual, fast food and takeout. The index for full-service meals climbed 0.8% month-over-month in August, and the index for limited-service meals rose 0.7%.

About the only good news was that on an annual basis, the food away from home index increased only 8% — below the overall inflation rate of 8.3% and much better than the 11.4% year-over-year gain in the price of food at home. The index for full-service meals rose 9% percent over the last 12 months, while the index for limited-service meals gained 7.2%.

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The August numbers continued a months-long pattern of higher prices for eating out amid a move by restaurants to raise prices to help cover higher food, labor and transportation costs, as well as increases in rent and utility bills. The problem has been compounded further by higher transaction fees charged by Visa and Mastercard.

As previously reported by GOBankingRates, inflation has prompted some restaurants to add additional fees to customer bills, including “noncash adjustments,” “fuel surcharges” and “kitchen appreciation.”

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The restaurant industry had hoped for a big rebound in 2022 following deep slumps in 2020 and 2021 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the year, the National Restaurant Association projected industrywide sales of $898 billion in 2022, up from $864 billion in 2019. But even if the industry hits that target, it will actually be less than the pre-pandemic numbers after adjusting for inflation.

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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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