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COVID-19: Here's Why Fast Food Restaurants Hiked Up Menu Prices During The Pandemic

Drive-thru fast food service - photo taken before COVID-19 pandemic
Drive-thru fast food service - photo taken before COVID-19 pandemic Photo Credit: By Coneingcrew - Own work, CC0,

If it feels like fast food tacos, fried chicken sandwiches, and burgers are taking a bigger bite out of your wallet than just a few months ago - you are not alone.

Across the nation, fast food prices have gone up significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Restaurant Business reported.

In fact, quickie restaurants haven't jacked up their prices like this since the Great Recession of 2008, according to Eat This, Not That.

Citing government data, a Restaurant Business analysis found that prices at limited-service restaurants went up by 6.2 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, traditional restaurants with dining rooms and waitstaff raised their prices by 2.9 percent.


The hike can be attributed to several factors including higher demand, employee wages, and delivery fees. 

When COVID-19 closed restaurants, drive-thru service was praised for its contact-less delivery and business quickly shot up at fast-food restaurants around the country.

At the same time, hazard pay to work during a pandemic temporarily increased pay at many fast-food restaurants, Restaurant Business reported. 

Delivery via a third-party app has also lead to increased prices as the service tacks fees onto the bill. For example, a Chipotle order costs 13 percent less if you pick it up instead of having it delivered, according to ETNT.

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