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How much have fast-food prices gone up since 2020? Price hikes at 6 popular chains.

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How much have fast-food prices gone up since 2020? Price hikes at 6 popular chains.

The carefree days of the “Dollar Menunaire” are a distant memory. Five-dollar footlong? Forget it. As any fast-food fanatic knows, the drive-thru is no longer the greasy bastion of value it once was.

Inflation affects all consumer products and services, but each business make its own decisions when it comes to raising prices. And while some companies’ price hikes have been in line with rising wages and increasing supply costs, certain businesses — including many in the fast-food industry — have increased prices at unprecedented rates that have outpaced inflation by a significant margin.

Consumers have noticed these supersized prices at the drive-thru, and they aren’t happy. Fastflation, as it’s come to be known, refers to outsized inflation at fast-food establishments — businesses that have historically aimed to maintain low prices relative to other eateries to better serve working folks on a limited dining budget.

Fast-food price hikes by company: 2020–2024

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, prices in general went up by around 21.5% between December 2019 (prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic issues that followed) and March 2024 (the latest month for which CPI data was available as of this article’s last update).

We looked at the prices of popular menu items at six popular fast-food chains over this same period (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, In-N-Out Burger, Burger King, and Jack in the Box) and found that only 3 of the 30 menu items we checked didn’t go up in price by more than the inflation rate (and only a single item didn’t go up in price at all).

Below are tables listing menu prices of five popular products from McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, In-N-Out Burger, Burger King, and Jack in the Box fast-food restaurants from the end of 2019 and mid-2024, along with percentage increases.

Note:

Most of the end-of-2019 prices in this article come from archived versions of pages from fastfoodmenuprices.com, an independent company whose human team has been visiting restaurants and collecting real fast-food menu prices in person since 2013. It’s important to note that the data collected by this company may not be 100% accurate.

2024 prices are sourced directly from restaurants’ online menus where possible. For those that required a specific restaurant to be selected to view prices, a Los Angeles location on or near Figueroa Street was selected.

McDonald’s dollar menu was once the go-to option for bargain-hungry fast-food fans, but the chain’s prices have gone up more than most in recent years. Brett Jordan via Unsplash© Brett Jordan via Unsplash
McDonald’s price increases
Menu itemEnd-of-2019 priceMid-2024 pricePercentage increase

Medium French Fries

$1.79

$4.19

134.1%

McChicken

$1.29

$3.89

201.6%

Big Mac

$3.99

$7.49

87.7%

10 McNuggets

$4.49

$7.58

68.8%

Cheeseburger

$1.00

$3.15

215%

Average price increase across these 5 items: 141.4%

2024 source: McDonald’s app (Figueroa Street Los Angeles location selected)

Taco Bell’s value menu still boasts plenty of under-$2 options, including the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito and Spicy Potato Soft Taco, both $1.19 in many locations. PJ Gal-Szabo via Unsplash© PJ Gal-Szabo via Unsplash
Taco Bell price increases
Menu itemEnd-of-2019 priceMid-2024 pricePercentage increase

Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

$1.69

$3.69

118.3%

Nachos Bellgrande

$3.29

$5.89

79%

Spicy Potato Soft Taco

$1.00

$1.19

19%

Cheesy Bean And Rice Burrito

$1.00

$1.19

19%

Crunchwrap Supreme

$3.49

$5.29

51.6%

Average price increase across these 5 items: 57.4%

2024 source: Taco Bell website (didn’t require location to be specified)

Chick-fil-A’s prices haven’t gone up quite as much as some other fast-food chains’ have, but the restaurant’s price hikes have still exceeded the rate of inflation by a significant margin. Brad via Unsplash© Brad via Unsplash
Chick-fil-A price increases
Menu itemEnd-of-2019 priceMid-2024 pricePercentage increase

Deluxe Chicken Sandwich

$3.65

$6.55

79.5%

8 Chick-fil-A Nuggets

$3.05

$5.99

96.4%

4 Chick-n-Strips

$4.39

$7.85

78.8%

Medium Waffle Fries

$1.65

$2.99

81.2%

Large Milkshake

$3.15

$5.19

64.76%

Average price increase across these 5 items: 80.1%

2024 source: Chic-fil-A website (didn’t require location to be specified)

In-N-Out has been able to keep prices lower than most fast-food chains by offering just a few products, many of which share ingredients. Kyle Smith via Unsplash© Kyle Smith via Unsplash
In-N-Out Burger price increases
Menu itemEnd-of-2019 priceMid-2024 pricePercentage increase

Double Double

$3.45

$5.65

63.8%

Cheeseburger

$2.40

$3.95

63.6%

Hamburger

$2.10

$3.50

66.7%

French Fries

$1.60

$2.30

43.8%

Shake

$2.15

$2.95

37.2%

Average price increase across these 5 items: 55%

Burger King’s iconic Whopper went up in price by 85.9% between the beginning of 2020 and the middle of 2024. Nazrin Babashova via Unsplash© Nazrin Babashova via Unsplash
Burger King price increases
Menu itemEnd-of-2019 priceMid-2024 pricePercentage increase

Whopper

$4.19

$7.79

85.9%

Bacon Double Cheeseburger

$2.29

$4.99

117.9%

Original Chicken Sandwich

$4.09

$7.59

85.6%

French Fries

$2.19

$3.89

77.6%

Shakes

$3.09

$4.99

61.5%

Average price increase across these 5 items: 85.7%

2024 source: Burger King website (Figueroa Street Los Angeles location selected)

Jack in the Box raised the prices of the five items we looked at less on average than the other five restaurants we examined. TaurusEmerald, CC-BY-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia Commons© TaurusEmerald, CC-BY-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Jack in the Box price increases
Menu itemEnd-of-2019 priceMid-2024 pricePercentage increase

Jumbo Jack Cheeseburger

$3.19

$4.99

56.4%

Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club

$4.99

$7.49

50.1%

Medium French Fries

$2.09

$3.29

57.4%

Two Tacos

$0.99

$0.99

0%

Oreo Cookie Shake

$2.79

$4.49

60.9%

Average price increase across these 5 items: 45%

2024 source: Jack in the Box website (Figueroa Street Los Angeles location selected)

Key takeaways

Below are some of the key insights we gleaned from the data examined above. Keep in mind that the following statements apply only to the 30 menu items and six restaurants listed above — not to the fast-food industry in general.

How much have fast-food prices gone up since 2020?

Prices of the items we looked at at the six restaurants listed above went up an average of 77.4% between late December 2019 and mid 2024.

Which fast-food chain raised prices the most?

Across all of the menu items listed for each of the six restaurants checked, McDonald’s raised prices more on average (141.4%) than any of the other five restaurants included in this list.

Which fast-food chain raised prices the least?

Across all of the menu items listed for each of the six restaurants checked,, Jack in the Box raised prices less on average (45%) than any of the other five restaurants included in this list.

Which item went up in price the most?

Of the 30 items checked across all six restaurants, McDonald’s Cheeseburger had the highest percentage price increase, at 215%.

Which item went up in price the LEAST?

Of the 30 items checked across all six restaurants, Jack in the Box’s Two Tacos had the lowest percentage price increase, at 0%.

Which items’ price hikes didn’t outpace inflation?

Only three items out of the 30 checked went up in price by less than the overall inflation rate between the end of 2019 and mid-2024 — Taco Bell’s Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito (19%) and Spicy Potato Soft Taco (19%), and Jack in the Box’s Two Tacos (0%).

Article was originally found here.

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