Inflation in the United States: The surprising ‘surcharge’ that is starting to appear on restaurant tickets

New York: Did you notice anything extra on your restaurant receipt?

Instead of raising menu prices, restaurants in the US are using new fees and surcharges for Include inflation in lowercase.

. fee “Non-cash adjustment,” “extra fuel cost,” or “kitchen valuation.” More invoices have been shown recently. Industry analysts say this A wave of surcharges led by it in the first place Restaurants are trying to cope with the impact of high inflation and a tight labor market on their bottom line. also, Mastercard and Visa raised transaction fees for many merchants in April.

Lightspeed, a global developer of point-of-sale software, said that Revenue from surcharges nearly doubled from April 2021 to April 2022, Based on a sample of 6,000 US restaurants using its platform. The number of restaurants adding service charges increased by 36.4% during the same period.

Restaurant in Miami, FloridaHannibal Greco

“As the costs of doing business change, we’ve seen that More merchants are benefiting from this tacticPeter Dougherty, General Manager of hospitality by Lightspeed.

This practice is similar to shrinkagea phenomenon that occurs when snack companies reduce the size of the packages or portions to be eaten It is difficult to detect a price increase.

The surcharge is effective in part because unless people pay close attention, Many do not notice it. When the bill came after a mid-April dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Lizzie Stevens was about to get her wallet to pay. Instead, he took out his phone to Google “Temporary Inflation Fee” that you notice has been added to your account.

“I was like, ‘Wow, now they’re charging us at a restaurant too?'” said Stevens, 34, who lives in Stockton, California. “

The charge was $2. She said this only added to her public discomfort with the price hike. He was just the owner of the place he lived in Rent increased by $150 in March. She only has a mother of two Get a part-time job to supplement your income.

The restaurant chain could not be reached for comment. Their website includes the following statement: “A temporary fee of $2 will be added to offset macroeconomic stress.”

Pizza restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York
Pizza restaurant in Greenwich Village, New Yorkshutterstock – shutterstock

The new fees aren’t just limited to restaurant menus. CardX, a software provider that allows merchants to pass on credit card fees to consumers as an additional fee, had 2,600 customers in November. The fastest growing areas other than restaurants were general contractors and attorneys.

“These are the most cost-sensitive sectors that have a high demand or need to shift their credit card transaction fees in the context of rising costs,” said Jonathan Raze, founder and CEO of CardX. The company was acquired in November by Stax, a payment technology company that recently raised $245 million in funding, another sign of demand to help businesses add additional fees.

Inflation and the pandemic have posed particular challenges to the restaurant industry. The average price of supplies for a restaurant operator increased by 17.5% Since last year, according to the NPD Group. in comparison, Consumer spending on restaurants increased 5% during that period.

David Portalatin, a food industry advisor to the group, said raising the surcharge is one way companies can offset at least some of those costs. He said customers often seemed more willing to accept additional fees rather than price increases. A restaurant operator recently tried to increase the price of a specialty sandwich, resulting in a 6% decrease in sales of that particular item, He said.

Some companies are more clear about the reason for the additional fee.

Rock Elm Tavern, a chain of restaurants in Minneapolis that serves modern American cuisine, gained attention on social media recently when a customer noticed 3% “wellness fee” on your account.

Troy Reding, co-owner of Ally Restaurants, which operates Rock Elm, said the company imposed this fee just before the pandemic to offer health insurance coverage to all of its 140 employees if they worked at least 25 hours a week. since then, Tariffs have become a strategy to offset inflationary pressures And remain competitive in a tight job market, said Reding, who weighs Raise welfare fees to 5% in the fall.

“We’ll see if this chaos in the supply chain sorts itself out a bit, and we’ll see if employment picks up,” Reding said. “If costs continue to rise, part of our strategy will be to discover new and additional benefits that we can add to retain the people we have and try to attract new people from other service companies.”

Kathy Seidel, owner of Boston-based seafood restaurant Saltie Girl, added a Kitchen Appreciation Fee early in the pandemic, in part to establish a incentive for employees to return to work, He said. Since then, it has become a tool for maintaining pay parity between front line employees and administrative employees as costs rise. He added that the rate adds $5 an hour for each employee. The restaurant has not yet raised its menu prices, and Sidell doesn’t plan to do so.

“Our costs have increased significantly, but there is only one set amount of money people will pay for a lobster roll,” he added.

Sidell said he rarely receives complaints about additional fees. Redding said customers sometimes express dissatisfaction with the idea of ​​healthcare support for the waiter.

“It’s a tough industry because you have a lot of junior employees and trans employees,” He said.

Financial advisors say the best way for consumers to navigate these additional fees is to keep an eye on them.

Kristen Urartig, certified financial planner and founder of Brooklyn Plans, said people often exclude surcharges — including tips — from entertainment expenses, which can strain your budget. He said it pays to look at menu costs in advance when dining out, or Double your entry cost to get a more accurate estimate of what you’ll pay.

“The more you know as a consumer, the more willing you are to make decisions in your best interest,” Euretig said.

Diners can politely inquire about exorbitant or unreasonable charges; Some, like Salty Girl, will waive some additional fees upon request.

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