Two-Thirds of Americans Say They're ‘Shocked’ by High Cost of Fast Food

Craig Bannister | May 24, 2024
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Two of three Americans are “shocked” by the surging price of fast-food these days – so much so that 78% now consider fast-food to be a luxury, a new national survey of reveals.

“65% of Americans have been shocked by the high price of a fast-food bill in the past six month,” Lending Tree reports, announcing the results of its new survey of more than two thousand American adults. Even more parents with children under 18 years old (72%) report experiencing fast-food “stick shock.”

Four of five (78%) view fast-food as a luxury these days, because of its high price. More than half (56%) say that fixing something at home is now their “go-to” for an easy, inexpensive meal.

The cost of popular fast food items has skyrocketed over the past five years. For example:

  • The price of McDonald’s Big Mac has more than doubled, from $3.99 to $8.29.
  • The price of Subway’s BLT Footlong has increased three dollars, from $5.50 to $8.49.
  • Chipotle's chicken burrito cost $6.50 in 2019, but now costs $10.70. 


Making matters, many fast-food restaurants are now requesting tips. Fully 44% of respondents say they’d been asked to tip at a fast-food place in the past six months and more than half (57%) of those asked to tip say they complied.

Fast-food prices aren’t just rising, they’re increasing faster than overall inflation in the U.S., Fox Business notes:

“Fast-food price hikes have outpaced inflation in recent years. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows the cost of fast-food meals are up 41% from 2017 while the consumer price index has risen by 35.9%.”

In a separate article, Fox Business lists some of the special promotions fast-food restaurants are running in an effort to lure customers back into their franchises:

  • Wendy’s: $3 breakfast combo and free fries with purchase of another item using the app.
  • Taco Bell: expanded its "Cravings Value Menu" ($3 or less).
  • Sonic: "Under $4 Menu" and half-price shakes.
  • McDonald’s: “Free Fries Friday” and $5 meal deal (coming in June).


The business and economic reporting of CNSNews is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.