Consumers say fast food is getting so expensive it's becoming a 'luxury' Pesky inflation is forcing Americans to curb the craving, a LendingTree survey found


The rising cost of fast food is losing its cheap appeal among consumers, who now view the option as a “luxury” when they do indulge, according to a survey from financial services platform LendingTree.

That sentiment is largely due to “rampant inflation,” LendingTree said, which has forced consumers to change their spending habits.

“For many, that has meant fewer trips to the drive-thru for that burger, burrito, or spicy chicken sandwich they love — and even a change in how they perceive fast food,” the platform said.

The rising cost of fast food is pushing consumers to curb their cravings, the study found, which surveyed over 2,000 American adults on their views and behaviors around fast food.

According to the survey, 78% of consumers see fast food as a luxury because of how expensive it's gotten. Meanwhile, half of respondents said they view it as a luxury because they are “struggling financially.”

That sentiment resonated with 71% of consumers who make below $30,000 a year, including 58% of parents with young children, 58% of Gen Zers, and 53% of women, the study found.

But even so, as consumers continue to be squeezed by higher food costs, making the trip to a restaurant, even if it is a fast food chain, is becoming a bigger decision than it once was. That may in part be why consumers are buying more groceries and dining at home.

LendingTree’s study found that 3 in 4 Americans typically eat fast food once a week, but 62% said they are eating it less because of those rising prices.

That has been a welcomed surprise to consumers and their wallets, the study found, noting that 65% said they were “shocked” by the high price of their fast food bill in the previous six months.

 Live Nation and its Ticketmaster unit have been hit with the first in a likely wave of new consumer antitrust lawsuits after the U.S. government and states sued to break up the two companies on Thursday.
The first consumer class action to piggyback on the government cases opens new tab was filed later on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, seeking $5 billion in damages on behalf of potentially millions of ticket purchasers.
The cases accuse Live Nation of exerting monopoly control over the live events industry, threatening venues that work with rivals and boxing out competitors.
Consumer cases related to U.S. or state attorneys general lawsuits can pile up quickly and put added legal pressure on companies.
Lawyers for the class action plaintiffs at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Israel David did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Live Nation on Thursday called the government lawsuit “baseless” and said there was "more competition than ever" in the live events market.
The case was assigned on Friday to U.S. District Judge Arun Subramanian, an appointee of Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden who joined the court last year. Subramanian previously represented some plaintiffs in antitrust lawsuits at law firm Susman Godfrey, but the Live Nation case appears to be his first antitrust matter as a judge.
Lawyers who reviewed the government complaint said Live Nation could base its defense partly on the Justice Department's decision to sign off on the company's acquisition of Ticketmaster more than a decade ago.
Crowell & Moring’s Eric Enson, an antitrust lawyer who is not involved in the lawsuit, said the government's case raised thorny “legal and factual questions about whether a breakup is a legally permissible remedy.”
The case might resonate with consumers who have long complained about ticket prices, he said, "but proving antitrust cases to juries can be difficult."
However, antitrust legal scholar Rebecca Allensworth of Vanderbilt University said that while the public's opinion of Live Nation is legally unimportant, "appearances matter in cases, maybe especially when they are decided by juries."
The Justice Department said its prior case in 2010 addressing Live Nation's merger with Ticketmaster involved a different antitrust law and that Live Nation had since shown “more expansive forms" of anticompetitive conduct.

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