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Menu prices make their biggest monthly jump since 1981

Quick-service restaurants took the largest price hike of all segments, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Restaurant check
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants continue to raise prices at levels not seen in decades as operators face mounting pressures from labor, commodities and more.

Restaurant menu prices rose 0.8% on a month-to-month basis in July—the largest monthly increase since February 1981, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Food away from home prices climbed 4.6% for the 12-month period that ended in July, according to the Bureau, with full-service prices increasing 4.3% during that time and limited-service dining climbing 6.6%.

Grocery prices during the period, meanwhile, rose 2.6%. That was driven largely by a 5.9% increase in the prices of meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

In June, restaurant menu prices increased 0.7% on a month-to-month basis and 4.2% on an annual basis.

In reporting their recent earnings, restaurant chains around the country have noted they’ve implemented or are planning price increases.

Noodles & Company bumped prices another 3% this week, on top of a 2.5% price hike earlier this year. Chipotle Mexican Grill recently instituted a 4% price lift. And Shake Shack earlier this month said it intends to increase its menu prices by 3% to 3.5% by the end of the year, about a point higher than its typical price boost.

Restaurants are navigating a number of factors that are forcing them to raise prices. Even as many chains recover from the pandemic, they are grappling with widespread inflation in labor, food costs, construction materials and real estate.

The overall consumer price index climbed 5.4% in July compared to a year ago, increasing 0.5% on a month-over-month basis, according to the latest government figures. That figure rose 0.9% in June.

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