Restaurant Lunch Prices are Skyrocketing. Czechs are Looking for Ways to Save Money

No one who’s keen on eating out has missed the fact that they have to dig deeper into their pockets when visiting the restaurant. However, the willingness to pay more and more for lunch has begun to decline.

Since the beginning of this year, the price of lunch has been rising by one or two crowns every month. The costs of running restaurants are rising and their owners cannot afford to bear them all.

The margin in the catering sector is very sensitive to any cuts. The average price of lunch in June reached CZK 160.20, 10.1 per cent more than a year ago. And it seems that this is an amount that for many Czechs represents the ceiling of financial possibilities.

Data from the Czech Statistical Office and the Ticket Restaurant Card Index show that prices in restaurants increased by 23.5 percent year-on-year in June. At the same time, however, the gap between the amount spent and how much food costs is increasing. Thus, in May, restaurant prices rose 11.6 percent faster than spending; in June, the gap was already 13.4 percent.

Which means only one thing – guests are choosing cheaper items from the menus, denying themselves salads and drinks, and considering afternoon coffee with dessert to be more and more of a luxury. Some people have even stopped going to lunch altogether.

Restaurants currently have only 53 per cent of lunch guests compared to the pre-covid period. It doesn’t seem that this summer season – like the first covid rollout in the summer of 2020 – will help restaurateurs significantly to make up for the losses,” says Aneta Martišková, a board member of Edenred, which publishes the Ticket Restaurant Card Index.

The price of lunch plays now a major role in choosing a restaurant. According to a survey conducted by BC21, a company dedicated to projects and consulting in the gastronomy industry, 48 percent of Czech employees make their decision based on price.

Due to the current price rises, 54 percent of people now dine in restaurants less often than before the 2019 pandemic. People who receive food stamps are more likely to have lunch in a restaurant and spend more on it than people without food stamps.

According to data presented by Edenred, people in Prague are eating the most expensive lunches, where the average price of a lunch meal in June climbed to CZK 179. The second most expensive city for lunch is Brno, where lunches averaged CZK 171.

The cheapest places to eat are Olomouc (CZK 143) and Karlovy Vary (CZK 147). In Ostrava, for example, the highest percentage increase was recorded: in June 2020, lunch cost CZK 126, this year it is already CZK 157.

Czechs are increasingly avoiding having lunch in restaurants. BC21 reports that women are more likely to bring home-cooked food to work, while boxed meals are more popular among younger people. According to the survey, 45 per cent of employees eat lunch from home or at home on a weekday. And a third of people choose this form more often than in 2019.

Restaurateurs are expecting further declines in guests and sales in the upcoming months. Low-costs-oriented businesses and those that offer an excellent customer experience at an affordable price will be more likely to thrive.

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