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