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Food inflation has been on the rise for a while now, but up until recently it was far more apparent in supermarkets than restaurants. According to a story in Bloomberg, it seems as though restaurants are following suit now that consumers are used to higher grocery bills.
Perhaps the biggest tell in this trend of price increases comes from McDonald's, the world's most prominent chain of restaurants. This year alone they've upped prices by 2.4 percent, an increase substantial enough to cover rising food costs, as well as increase profits.
But covering food costs isn't the only reason for price increases. Recent (but still quite moderate) national gains in both employment and income are giving retailers reason to believe that consumers are ready to spend a little more when it comes to going out to eat. For many people, splurging on casual meals in restaurants has become a more affordable alternative to higher-ticket items like vacations.
The obvious question here is how to avoid paying more for meals out. Smart consumers should be on the lookout for these price hikes not as across-the-board increases but in the form of othe tactics such as pricier specials, an emphasis on more expensive menu items and scaling back promotions, especially in fast food and fast-casual restaurants.