80% Now Think Fast Food Is A Luxury




A burger or a Birken? That’s the question proposed from the results of a recent QSR survey by Lending Tree that’s getting a lot of media buzz.

The absurdity of the question is supported by what the study discovered:  Nearly 80% of Americans surveyed now see fast food as a luxury. Need further proof? Even the relatively upscale publcation Food & Winecovered the survey results.

From April 1 to April 4, LendingTree asked over 2,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 78 about their views and behaviors around fast food, and “how they’ve changed in the wake of seemingly everything getting more and more expensive.”

The top “luxury” brands? Americans ranked Chick-fil-A as the most high-end fast-food chain (25%), followed by Starbucks (22%) and Chipotle (21%).

The survey found that while Americans love fast food, with three in four Americans typically eating fast food at least once a week, the majority (62%) still said they’re “eating it less due to rising prices.” Sixty-five percent  are “shocked” by the high prices of a fast food in the past six months.

While 78% of consumers view fast food as a luxury because it’s become increasingly expensive, half of those surveyed said it was a luxury because of their own financial struggles. This rang true especially among Americans who make less than $30,000 a year (71%), parents with young children (58%), Gen Zers (58%) and women (53%), all demographics that often frequent fast food restaurants.

"It's so upsetting, because it goes against what we are expecting and what we have grown to love about fast food," which is its affordability,” NerdWallet Personal Finance Expert Kimberly Palmer told USA Today.

But the biggest threat to QSR pricing? Eating at home. The survey found that three in four Americans think eating at home is cheaper than ordering fast food. But their perception is not how they want their reality; 67% of Americans say fast food should be cheaper than eating at home.

McDonald’s has been the unlucky recipient of much of the online QSR pricing backlash, with many creators, such as @stepmobile and @drinkinbrospodcast producing content highlighting the chain’s price increases.

In response, McDonald’s published this public letter on its website on Wednesday, May 30, in which McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger makes the argument that “prices for many of our menu items have risen less than the rate of inflation,” providing plenty of back up data to make his point.

But even McDonald’s data couldn’t deny the fact that fast food costs more today than it did last year, not just at McDonald’s, but at every QSR, for a plethora of factors including food and labor costs.

Yet there appears to be some financial relief on the fast food horizon. Restaurant Business recently reported thaat “McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Jack in the Box are all preparing bundled value meals this summer in a bid to regain customer traffic.”

This could be the business bump QSRs have been waiting for, as customers aren’t just hungry for food, but for a deal. The Lending Tree survey found 72% of respondents said they’d be “more likely” to eat fast food at off-hours if there was a discount.

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