Are consumers turning away from high-priced burgers? Some people think so, says a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal found that lunch traffic at quick serve hamburger restaurants dropped 5 percent last year – that’s the largest year-over-year decline that market-research firm NPD Group Inc. has recorded.
Analysts say the trend of creating fancy hamburgers and rising labor costs have contributed to rising prices and a drop in customers at some restaurants. And people are eating at home more often. The NPD Group found that the average lunch burger tab, including fries and a drink, has jumped 22 percent over the past several years.
“It’s not sustainable for them to expect people to show up and spend $13 on a burger on a consistent basis,” Kurt Kane, chief concept officer at Wendy’s Co. told the Wall Street Journal.
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Americans have always loved hamburgers. But starting in the 2000s, the trend of building a better burger began to take off, especially among chains like Shake Shack, Smashburger and BurgerFi. The Wall Street Journal wrote that since 2005 the number of quick-serve restaurants has nearly quadrupled to more than 2,700.
A testament to that growth has been the rise of Five Guys, which recently dethroned In-N-Out as the top burger joint, according to The Harris Poll's annual EquiTrend Study. There is a Five Guys restaurant in the Riverpark shopping center in north Fresno.
Higher-end, sit-down restaurants have also joined the burger trend. These days you can find a burger with everything from bone marrow to fig marmalade. And it isn’t unusual to pay $12 to $15 for a gourmet burger.
In the Fresno-area, over-the-top burgers remain a hot food trend. Social media is frequently buzzing about the burgers at Eureka! Fresno, Rev’s in Clovis, House of JuJu in Clovis and the Annex Kitchen in Fresno.