Home US Full extent of price hikes at Burger King McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Carl’s Jr revealed: $20 combo a sad reality

Full extent of price hikes at Burger King McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Carl’s Jr revealed: $20 combo a sad reality

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How meal prices at the five biggest fast-food restaurants have risen in a decade

It’s no wonder Americans are fed up with fast food: A new report shows how much the price of some popular combo meals has skyrocketed.

Official figures show annual inflation in the fast food sector is 4.8 percent, but that only tells part of the story after years of increases, according to a report from USA Today sample.

Prices for a typical combo meal at the five biggest burger chains (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Carls Jr and Five Guys) have risen as much as 120 percent in a decade.

This is more than three times the official inflation rate: The cost of goods has increased only 31 percent since 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now it’s surprising that four in five Americans think fast food is a “luxury” given how expensive it is now, according to a survey by Loan tree presented.

And there’s no doubt that Americans have been voting with their wallets. In the first three months of 2024, visitors to fast food chains fell 3.5 percent from a year earlier, according to data from Revenue Management Solutions.

How meal prices at the five biggest fast-food restaurants have risen in a decade

In real terms, that means millions of Americans a week are skipping the drive-thru, and the chains themselves admit that higher prices have put off burger fans.

At Carl’s Jr, a Famous Star combo has jumped from $5.29 to $11.68, more than doubling since 2014.

In terms of dollar amount, Five Guys, the most expensive overall, rose more than $7 to $20.32.

McDonald’s, which has been the model for price increases, perhaps because it is the largest, raised prices the least.

But they were still up 65 percent and a Big Mac meal still costs $15 in some areas.

Researchers studied the five chains in 18 areas of the United States. They asked the price before taxes of each of the chain’s signature combos in medium size.

So for McDonald’s it was a combo meal based on the Big Mac, for Burger King the Whopper, for Wendy’s a Dave’s Single, Carl’s Jr the Famous Star and for Five Guys a cheeseburger.

The 2014 prices were obtained from that year’s menus on the Fast Food Menu Prices website.

As well as showing how much prices have risen in ten years, the research showed how prices vary across the country.

At McDonald’s in Houston, Texas, the Big Mac combo was cheaper: $7.89. In Seattle it cost almost $15.

Five Guys was also expensive in Seattle, but more expensive in Chicago, Illinois. There, a cheeseburger, fries and a drink cost $23.65. It was cheaper in nearby Indianapolis, Indiana. In fact, overall Five Guys was the most expensive.

There are hopes that the price increases are over.

McDonald’s had lower-than-expected sales for the first three months of the year, which it admitted was because low-income Americans were put off by higher prices.

That’s why CEO Chris Kempczinski promised better value for the rest of the year and said the chain needs to be “focused on affordability.”

Wendy's $3 breakfast deal includes an English muffin and potatoes.

Wendy’s $3 breakfast deal includes an English muffin and potatoes.

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an earnings conference call in early May:

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said on an earnings call in early May: “I think it’s important to recognize that all income groups are looking for value.”

McDonald’s plans a $5 meal package starting June 25. Customers will receive a total of four items: a McDouble or McChicken sandwich, fries, a small soft drink and four McNuggets.

Burger King has a similar $5 deal, while Wendy’s has launched a $3 breakfast, as the fast food price war appears to be heating up.

Neil Saunders, managing director of consultancy GlobalData Retail, told DailyMail.com this year that consumers are growing tired of price increases.

‘The problem is that places like McDonald’s were once cheap delights but are now becoming expensive luxuries. And customers are tired of continued price increases,” he said.

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