Biden's America: Fast Food is a Luxury Purchase

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

The price of fast food is up 31% since 2020. In Biden's America, a hamburger and fries from a fast food restaurant is a luxury for more than 60% of Americans.

Let that sink in. In times past, when the cost of living rose, fast-food restaurants were an option for families who could not afford to go to a traditional restaurant for a meal. Not today. 


A survey was taken of 2,000 American adults. 78% said that fast food is a luxury because of the price tag. The survey was released on Monday. Half of the respondents said that their financial situations were too stretched and fast food is now a luxury. More than six in ten said they have cut down on fast food because of the rising prices. 

These are the key points and findings

  • Americans love fast food, but costs are forcing them to curb their cravings. 3 in 4 Americans typically eat fast food at least once a week, but the majority (62%) say they’re eating it less due to rising prices. In fact, 65% of Americans have been shocked by the high price of a fast-food bill in the past six months.
  • Are burgers the new Birkins? 78% of consumers view fast food as a luxury because it’s become increasingly expensive. Additionally, half of Americans say they view fast food as a luxury because they’re struggling financially. This is especially true among Americans who make less than $30,000 a year (71%), parents with young children (58%), Gen Zers (58%) and women (53%).
  • Americans are opting for food at home. While 67% of Americans agree fast food should be cheaper than eating at home, 75% say this isn’t the case. Further, nearly half (46%) say fast-food restaurants cost similarly to their local sit-down restaurants, while 22% say fast food is more expensive. When asked about their go-to for an easy, inexpensive meal, 56% cite making food at home.
  • Surge pricing and tipping leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. 78% of Americans are concerned about surge pricing at fast-food restaurants, but 72% admit they’d be more likely to eat fast food at off-hours if there was a discount. Additionally, 44% of Americans say they’ve been asked to tip on fast food in the past six months, and 43% of those asked refused to add gratuity.
  • Not all fast-food chains are rated equally, but apps help to lure some customers to return for more. Americans rank Chick-fil-A as the most high-end fast-food chain (25%), followed by Starbucks (22%) and Chipotle (21%). Further, 46% of Americans use apps for fast-food establishments that entice them to visit more often.

As you see, it isn't just McDonald's and Burger King. Price hikes have happened across the board. It looks like a consumer may get a little break on deals using the apps. 

The price hikes affect lower-income people more than upper-income people, so the lower the income, the less likely that person or family is eating fast food. Even among higher-income households, those earning $100,000 or more a year, 52% say they are eating less fast food. 

Women are more likely to say the price controls the frequency of purchases, by 65%, while the percentage of men saying so is 60%. Gen Xers ages 44 to 59 are most likely to say the prices are too high at 66%. For baby boomers ages 60 to 78, the percentage is 62%. 54% of Gen Z ages 18 to 27 think so.

Nearly 3 in 4 parents with young kids say the prices are too high for frequent purchases. 

It used to be that fast food was cheaper than preparing food at home but that is no longer the case. 67% of Americans think it should be cheaper. 56% say they make inexpensive meals at home. That is twice as many who say they purchase fast food. 

There is an argument to be made that it is better to eat less fast food. It isn't a more nutritious option than food cooked at home, as a rule. People don't always eat well at home, either, so it's often the convenience of fast food that makes a difference. Busy families, working people, and those on vacation road trips rely on that convenience. 


The survey asked which fast food places were the best of the high-end spots. It allowed the respondents to make their own definition of high-end. 

Among the 10 options, there was a clear winner, three others that drew significant votes and six others that fell far short. While Starbucks (22%), Chipotle (21%) and, perhaps surprisingly, McDonald’s (16%) are among the most popular choices, Chick-fil-A (25%) wins the day.

We all know that McDonald's has the best fries. It doesn't surprise me that Chick-fil-A is the top favorite. 

When the federal government stops excessive spending, inflation will come down to more manageable levels. The prices throughout supply chains and at the retail level may be able to be more reasonable for family budgets. Prices are too high in Biden's America. 

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