Friday, May 10, 2024

I Never Thought I'd See the Day that I Couldn't Afford Fast-Food Prices

The last decade has seen a steady increase in the costs of fast food, according to FinanceBuzz, a personal finance site.

The good news is I eat at home more often. The bad news is while my disposable income remains the same (I'm retired) and the cost of eating fast foods keeps climbing.

My earliest fast-food memories start with McDonald's when my family of six went there before going to the drive-in movies on Friday nights.

Hamburgers were only 15 cents and every item on the menu cost less than 25 cents. It was a guilty pleasure to eat fast food and go to the movies. 

As the years went by, I can remember eating fast foods because it they were cheaper than restaurants. For the poor McDonalds was a haven for the only warm food they could afford.

It was just a matter of time before the prices began a steady climb and we're now at a crossroads. Inflation gone wild.

In the last ten years the price of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal more than doubled in price from $5.30 in 2014 to $11.99 this year. 

Other restaurant chains have also been jacking their prices up. Popeye's, Jimmy John's and Subway hiked their prices from 2014 to 2024 86%, 62% and 39%, respectively.

I haven't been to a Subway for a long while and when my wife and I went to one in Arcata, California. a couple of days ago I was stunned. It cost $32 for two-foot-long meatball sandwiches. My eyes bugged out.

For the record fast food prices can vary wildly from state to state. While prices are set at the corporate lever for some fast-food restaurants, they are determined by individual franchise owners at others.

Across the country there's 22 states that have raised their minimum wages in January, although the federal baseline pay remains at $7.25 an hour.

In California fast-food chains with 60 or more locations nationwide are now required to pay their workers a minimum wage of $20 an hour.

The rising labor costs account for driving the food prices according to the corporations, but that's just a smoke screen according to the Roosevelt Insitute who noted the industry's record profit margins.

Which brings me back to the fact that fast foods have become too expensive for retirees (and poor people) to buy. We're a significant segment of customers that the fast-food industry has always counted on in their sales predictions and that's changing.

As it Stands, I suppose there will always be a reason for people wanting fast food. Regardless of the price.

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