Food & Drink

Americans Say Rising Costs Are Making it ‘More Challenging’ to Dine Out

You don’t have to over-scrutinize your monthly credit card statements to know that food prices have increased dramatically over the past few years, and that’s true whether you’re eating at a sit-down restaurant, ordering fast food, or buying groceries so you can cook at home. According to the Producer Price Index, the wholesale cost of food increased by 22.4% between January 2020 and January 2024. Possibly the best illustration of these rising prices can be found in Trader Joe’s produce department, where the cost of one banana has jumped by 20% — the chain’s first banana price change in 25 years. 

Givex, a Toronto-based data analytics and customer engagement platform, has recently released the results of its annual Consumer Survey which, in part, looks at how rising food prices have influenced consumer behavior.

The company polled 1,000 Americans in April, and quickly learned that almost half (47%) of them are going out to eat at restaurants less often in the past year than they did the year before. Almost half of the respondents (45%) also said they have cut back on ordering delivery, while almost two-thirds (60%) said they are preparing more meals at home. 

A significant majority (78%) said that higher menu prices had made dining out “more challenging” than it was this time last year. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was consistent across Givex’s other survey too: it asked 1,500 Canadians the same question, and 82% of those respondents said that it was “more challenging” to dine out due to rising costs.) 

When they do decide to dine out, the respondents were overwhelmingly attracted to promotions, deals, and discounts. Eighty-six percent said that promotions — like Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) — were a “major incentive” to visit a restaurant. The majority of those surveyed were also attracted by coupons and discounts (81% of respondents) and loyalty programs (65%). Almost half (47%) were motivated by Happy Hour deals. 

The majority of respondents (87%) said that they are a member of at least one customer loyalty program — like Burger King’s Royal Perks rewards program, for example —  while half (49%) said that the most important loyalty programs were the ones offered at supermarkets and grocery chains. 

“The ongoing economic challenges have understandably altered the way people approach dining out,” Mo Chaar, Givex’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “Our survey indicates that while price sensitivity has increased, so has the appreciation for value-added services like loyalty programs and promotional offers, which can help restaurants maintain customer engagement during these challenging times.” 

For what it’s worth, Trader Joe’s has always pushed back on the idea of having sales, discounts, coupons, loyalty programs, or membership cards. So we can all take comfort in the knowledge that their bananas are four cents more for everyone.

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