Food Delivery Really Is More Expensive Than It Used to Be

If your bank account and delivery habits are at odds, you're not alone.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it’s safe to say that many people cut themselves some slack in the kitchen and did their part to help restaurants by ordering food delivery. The downside to ordering delivery is it comes with all sorts of fees and higher menu prices, and those costs add up the more you do it. 

No, your bank account doesn’t deceive you. Delivery really does cost more than it used to and your wallet may have taken a major hit over the last year or so. A recent Wall Street Journal report on the matter suggests that the revenue increases delivery platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates saw in 2020 weren’t just linked to an increase in orders from folks being home. It’s also because we’re paying more for our orders than we were pre-pandemic.

The Wall Street Journal tested its theory about delivery costs by placing three identical orders from three Philadelphia restaurants on DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates in 2019 and 2021. All three orders had gone up in price this year in both food costs and the service fee. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the price of delivery fees, which stayed the same across the board—likely because Philadelphia instituted caps on how much delivery apps can charge restaurants.

So, what’s causing delivery order prices to soar, if not increased demand or rising costs of delivery? According to the report, in some cases it's the result of restaurants simply raising the prices. Chipotle, for example, increased delivery food costs about 17% as compared to in-store orders. The paper also suggests the high costs could be your favorite eateries trying to offset the cost of commission fees from the delivery apps.

The takeaway, if you will, from all of this is that luxury comes at a price. If you want someone to build your meal and have it hand-delivered to you, you’re going to have to pony up the cash. If you’re looking to save money and curb unnecessary spending, you may want to consider cutting your delivery habit. That doesn’t mean you can’t still eat out. It just means you may want to order directly through the restaurant (to avoid platform fees), pick up your food, or eat at a restaurant instead of having your meal brought to you.

h/tFood & Wine

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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it—find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.