Restaurants across Canada, the U.S., and beyond are feeling the pinch of decades-high rates of inflation. That is manifesting itself in many ways, one of which — for many restaurants, at least — is smaller servings. But, if figures around portion size complaints are anything to go by, diners are noticing.
A growing number of customers are lodging complaints, according to online review site Yelp.
Reviews containing “inflationary language” are up 28 per cent in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year.
“We saw reviewers use inflation-related language at record levels, particularly in the dining, arts and entertainment and travel categories,” said Pria Mudan, data science leader at Yelp. “And for the first time, reviewers are describing ‘shrinkflation’-related experiences where the size or quantity of goods are noticeably smaller.”
Mudan added that “shrinkflation: is most referenced at restaurants serving more affordable fare. In particular, reviews mentioning inflation-related experiences jumped 38 per cent year-over-year at casual restaurants, 36 per cent at food businesses, and 30 per cent at nightlife businesses.
Notable category increases for mentions of inflation include chicken shops (where such mentions were up 82 per cent year-over-year), TexMex (up 68 per cent), fruit and vegetable markets (up 66 per cent), and Caribbean restaurants (up 65 per cent).
Restaurants serving popular, traditionally low-cost items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza generated the most “shrinkflation”-related complaints, according to Yelp’s report. Customers also grumbled about serving sizes at seafood spots and restaurants serving Italian or Chinese food.
Shrinking portion size complaints aren’t the only grievance being seen increasingly often on Yelp. Data from the company last month showed that complaints about short-staffed restaurants have also been surging in 2022.