Hold the guac! You may be comfortable paying extra for the guacamole now, but Chipotle just announced a price increase for dozens of cities. The increase isn’t drastic by any means, but we get it. It’s not as if your paycheck is getting any bigger! It’s also the first major increase since the 2015 E. Coli outbreak that forced so many burrito fans out the door.
So What’s Up Chipotle?
Spokesperson Chris Arnold tells USA Today that customers will pay about a quarter to 35 cents more for an average meal. Let’s do the math. If you eat one meal at Chipotle each week, we’re talking about $13. Once per day on the other hand—you’re looking at spending at least another $91 per year (but we’re kind of hoping you don’t do that).
Arnold says the increase will take place in 440 of Chipotle’s 2,200 restaurants, or about 20 percent of locations.
“Our pricing has always been done on a market-by-market basis, as the cost of doing business varies by market. So we tend to evaluate pricing in that fashion,” Arnold says.
The company has not announced which markets will get the hike, but you can assume cities with higher than normal minimum wage increases will be among the 440.
Labor costs rise as minimum wage goes up in a number of big cities. It’s impacting Chipotle and just about every other restaurant chain. Unemployment is also at its lowest rate in about a decade, so fewer people are willing take lower paying jobs. Restaurants are also coping with higher rent, transportation and gas prices like the rest of us.
How Does The Chipotle Increase Compare?
Customers in those 440 markets will pay about 5 percent more per meal. The company assures there will not be a nationwide increase. But other companies can’t make the same promise:
- McDonald’s is using some creative marketing strategies to get customers to pay more. For example, the McPick 2 menu offers a deal to customers, but you have to buy two items instead of one. The company also added a two for $5 deal.
- Wendy’s isn’t far off with a four for $4 meal option.
- The company that owns Chili’s and Maggiano’s orchestrated a 1.5-2 percent price increase this year, offset by some discounts on food and alcohol.
- Buffalo Wild Wings planned for a minimal price hike in 2017.
Here’s an idea! Restaurant pricing is actually going up much more quickly than grocery store prices (which rose less than one percent in a year). Packing lunch for just one more day each week will balance out the Chipotle price increase. But come on! You have to splurge on that burrito bowl every now and again. With a side of guac, of course!