The cost of food served at home rose 0.6 percent in May from a year ago, the smallest 12-month increase since early 2014, while consumers paid 3 percent more for meals prepared at U.S. restaurants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly consumer-price index. Eating in hasn’t been this attractive compared to dining out since 2010.
“This is good news for budget-conscious consumers where this cost difference is a real factor in deciding whether to eat out or stay at home,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh. Eateries, especially fast-casual ones, compete with your kitchen. With restaurant prices rising faster than those at grocery stores, this prompts more consumers to shift to the cheaper alternative, he said.
If this trend lingers, like it did from May 2012 – April 2014, there could be a “backlash” from consumers, with folks eating out less frequently and saving the extra money, Hoffman said.